Manifesto

A poem by David Herbert Lawrence

I

A woman has given me strength and affluence.
Admitted!

All the rocking wheat of Canada,
ripening now,
has not so much of strength as the body of one woman sweet in ear,
nor so much to give though it feed nations.

Hunger is the very Satan.
The fear of hunger is Moloch,
Belial, the horrible God.
It is a fearful thing to be dominated by the fear of hunger.

Not bread alone, not the belly nor the thirsty throat.
I have never yet been smitten through the belly,
with the lack of bread, no,
nor even milk and honey.

The fear of the want of these things seems to be quite left out of me.
For so much, I thank the good generations of man- kind.

II

AND the sweet, constant,
balanced heat of the suave sensitive body,
the hunger for this has never seized me and terrified me.
Here again, man has been good in his legacy to us,
in these two primary instances.

III

THEN the dumb, aching, bitter,
helpless need, the pining to be initiated,
to have access to the knowledge that the great dead have opened up for us,
to know, to satisfy the great and dominant hunger of the mind;
man's sweetest harvest of the centuries, sweet,
printed books, bright, glancing,
exquisite corn of many a stubborn glebe in the upturned darkness;
I thank mankind with passionate heart that I just escaped the hunger for these,
that they were given when I needed them, because I am the son of man.

I have eaten, and drunk, and warmed and clothed my body,
I have been taught the language of understanding,
I have chosen among the bright and marvellous books,
like any prince, such stores of the world's supply were open to me,
in the wisdom and goodness of man.
So far, so good.
Wise, good provision that makes the heart swell with love!

IV

BUT then came another hunger very deep, and ravening;
the very body's body crying out with a hunger more frightening,
more profound than stomach or throat or even the mind;
redder than death, more clamorous.

The hunger for the woman.
Alas, it is so deep a Moloch,
ruthless and strong,
'tis like the unutterable name of the dread Lord,
not to be spoken aloud.
Yet there it is, the hunger which comes upon us,
which we must learn to satisfy with pure,
real satisfaction;
or perish, there is no alternative.

I thought it was woman,
indiscriminate woman,
mere female adjunct of what I was.
Ah, that was torment hard enough and a thing to be afraid of,
a threatening, torturing, phallic Moloch.

A woman fed that hunger in me at last.
What many women cannot give,
one woman can; so I have known it.

She stood before me like riches that were mine.
Even then, in the dark, I was tortured, ravening, unfree,
Ashamed, and shameful, and vicious.
A man is so terrified of strong hunger;
and this terror is the root of all cruelty.
She loved me, and stood before me, looking to me.
How could I look, when I was mad?
I looked sideways, furtively, being mad with voracious desire.

V

THIS comes right at last.
When a man is rich,
he loses at last the hunger fear.
I lost at last the fierceness that fears it will starve.
I could put my face at last between her breasts
and know that they were given for ever that I should never starve never perish;
I had eaten of the bread that satisfies and my body's body was appeased,
there was peace and richness, fulfilment.

Let them praise desire who will,
but only fulfilment will do, real fulfilment,
nothing short.
It is our ratification our heaven,
as a matter of fact.
Immortality, the heaven,
is only a projection of this strange but actual fulfilment,
here in the flesh.

So, another hunger was supplied,
and for this I have to thank one woman,
not mankind, for mankind would have prevented me;
but one woman, and these are my red-letter thanksgivings.

VI

To be, or not to be, is still the question.
This ache for being is the ultimate hunger.
And for myself, I can say "almost, almost, oh, very nearly."
Yet something remains.
Something shall not always remain.
For the main already is fulfilment.

What remains in me, is to be known even as I know.
I know her now: or perhaps,
I know my own limitation against her.

Plunging as I have done, over, over the brink
I have dropped at last headlong into nought,
plunging upon sheer hard extinction;
I have come, as it were, not to know, died,
as it were; ceased from knowing; surpassed myself.
What can I say more, except that I know what it is to surpass myself?

It is a kind of death which is not death.
It is going a little beyond the bounds.
How can one speak, where there is a dumbness on one's mouth?
I suppose, ultimately she is all beyond me,
she is all not-me, ultimately.
It is that that one comes to.
A curious agony, and a relief,
when I touch that which is not me in any sense,
it wounds me to death with my own not-being;
definite, inviolable limitation, and something beyond,
quite beyond, if you understand what that means.
It is the major part of being,
this having surpassed oneself,
this having touched the edge of the beyond,
and perished, yet not perished.

VII

I WANT her though, to take the same from me.
She touches me as if I were herself, her own.
She has not realized yet, that fearful thing, that
I am the other, she thinks we are all of one piece.
It is painfully untrue.

I want her to touch me at last,
ah,
on the root and quick of my darkness and perish on me,
as I have perished on her.

Then, we shall be two and distinct,
we shall have each our separate being.
And that will be pure existence, real liberty.
Till then, we are confused, a mixture, unresolved,
unextricated one from the other.
It is in pure, unutterable resolvedness,
distinction of being, that one is free,
not in mixing, merging, not in similarity.
When she has put her hand on my secret,
darkest sources, the darkest outgoings,
when it has struck home to her, like a death,
"this is him!" she has no part in it,
no part whatever, it is the terrible other,
when she knows the fearful other flesh,
ah, darkness unfathomable and fearful,
contiguous and concrete,
when she is slain against me,
and lies in a heap like one outside the house,
when she passes away as I have passed away being pressed up against the other,
then I shall be glad, I shall not be confused with her,
I shall be cleared, distinct,
single as if burnished in silver,
having no adherence, no adhesion anywhere,
one clear, burnished, isolated being, unique,
and she also, pure, isolated, complete, two of us,
unutterably distinguished, and in unutterable conjunction.

Then we shall be free, freer than angels, ah, perfect.

VIII

AFTER that,
there will only remain that all men detach themselves and become unique,
that we are all detached,
moving in freedom more than the angels,
conditioned only by our own pure single being,
having no laws but the laws of our own being.

Every human being will then be like a flower, untrammelled.
Every movement will be direct.
Only to be will be such delight,
we cover our faces when we think of it lest our faces betray us to some untimely fiend.

Every man himself, and therefore,
a surpassing singleness of mankind.
The blazing tiger will spring upon the deer,
undimmed, the hen will nestle over her chickens,
we shall love, we shall hate, but it will be like music,
sheer utterance, issuing straight out of the unknown,
the lightning and the rainbow appearing in us unbidden,
unchecked,
like ambassadors.

We shall not look before and after.
We shall be, now.
We shall know in full.
We, the mystic NOW.

ZENNOR

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