This poem, written close to Lawrence's death, is much more meaningful if you know what a Bavarian Gentian looks like. It's a blue tubular flower and was one of the symbols that Lawrence claimed as his own, along with the phoenix, dark sun, and rainbow symbols.
Here he relates the flower with the Persephone myth. Persephone, a daughter of Zeus and Demeter, was abducted by Pluto, King of Hades. For six months of the year she must reign as Queen alongside Pluto but is allowed to return to the surface for the other six. Persephone carries the flower torch-like into the underground to light her way to Pluto's chambers. Or rather it is Pluto's "blue-smoking darkness" which overtakes the light of day, her consciousness. "Black lamps from the halls of Dis." It is Death which has come, and the flower acts as guide into the "sightless realm." But like the phoenix, Persephone will once again be resurrected for she is a symbol of springtime rebirth. And although Lawrence's body is dead, his consciousness arises again each time we read his words.
In a letter to Ernest Collings dated Jan. 17, 1913, Lawrence writes: "I conceive a man's body as a kind of flame, like a candle flame, forever upright and yet flowing: and the intellect is just the light that is shed on to the things around. And I am not so much concerned with the things around--which is really mind--but with the mystery of the flame forever flowing, coming God knows how from out of practically nowhere, and being itself, whatever there is around it, that it lights up. We have got so ridiculously mindful, that we never know that we ourselves are anything--we think there are only the objects we shine upon. And there the poor flame goes on burning ignored, to produce this light. And instead of chasing the mystery in the fugitive, half-lighted things outside us, we ought to look at ourselves, and say 'My God, I am myself!'"
(p. 563-64/The Portable D.H. Lawrence/Penguin)...
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