The American Dissident: Literature, Democracy & Dissidence

D. H. Lawrence—Critical Poems

An author should be in among the crowd, kicking their shins or cheering them on to some mischief or merriment.... Whoever reads me will be in the thick of the scrimmage, and if he doesn't like it--if he wants a safe seat in the audience--let him read somebody else.
          —DHL to Carlo Linati, 22 Jan. 1925

How Beastly the Bourgeois Is
How beastly the bourgeois is
especially the male of the species--

Presentable, eminently presentable--
shall I make you a present of him?

Isn't he handsome? Isn't he healthy? Isn't he a fine specimen?
Doesn't he look the fresh clean Englishman, outside?
Isn't it God's own image? tramping his thirty miles a day
after partridges, or a little rubber ball?
wouldn't you like to be like that, well off, and quite the

Oh, but wait!
Let him meet a new emotion, let him be faced with another
man's need,
let him come home to a bit of moral difficulty, let life
face him with a new demand on his understanding
and then watch him go soggy, like a wet meringue.
Watch him turn into a mess, either a fool or a bully.
Just watch the display of him, confronted with a new
demand on his intelligence,
a new life-demand.

How beastly the bourgeois is
especially the male of the species--

Nicely groomed, like a mushroom
standing there so sleek and erect and eyeable--
and like a fungus, living on the remains of a bygone life
sucking his life out of the dead leaves of greater life
than his own.

And even so, he's stale, he's been there too long.
Touch him, and you'll find he's all gone inside
just like an old mushroom, all wormy inside, and hollow
under a smooth skin and an upright appearance.

Full of seething, wormy, hollow feelings
rather nasty--
How beastly the bourgeois is!

Standing in their thousands, these appearances, in damp
what a pity they can't all be kicked over
like sickening toadstools, and left to melt back, swiftly
into the soil of England.


Censors are dead men
Censors are dead men
set up to judge between life and death.
For no live, sunny man would be a censor,
he'd just laugh.
But censors, being dead men,
have a stern eye for life
—That thing’s alive!  It’s dangerous.  Make away
     with it!—
And when the execution is performed
you hear the stertorous self-righteous heavy
breathing of the dead men,
the censors breathing with relief.


My Little Critics
My little critics must all have been brought up by their
who petted them, and had them fixed
to save them from undesirable associations.

It must be so. Otherwise
the sight of an ordinary Tom wouldn't send them into
such silly hysterics,
my little critics, dear, safe little pets.


Minorities in Danger
Now above all is the time for the minorities of men,
those who are neither bourgeois nor bolshevist, but true to life,
to gather and fortify themselves, in every class, in every country,
in every race.

Instead of which, the minorities that still see the gleam of life
submit abjectly to the blind mechanical traffic-streams of those
the stone-blind bourgeois, and the stone-blind bolshevist,
and pander to them.

Traitors, oh liars, you Judas lot!
Jesus! You've not only sold Jesus
You've sold every man there was to be sold.

You liars, you dirty lot!
You've sold every great man that ever appeared
You cultured canaille!

Oh the canaille of culture, the Christian canaille
The dirty dogs of wisdom
The purveyors of education
The superior classes.

They've sold everything, but everything
And everybody.
They sold Plato to the sausage factories of universities
Where now they deal out slices of Plato-sausage to the cultured

And all the heroes of the bible they sold for cats-meat to the
And the churches cry "Puss! Puss! Come and be fed!"

Napoleon they sold to Madame Tussauds and to the artificial manure
Shakespeare they sold to Crosse and Blackwells, to be jammed into
And Beethoven they sold to certain conductors, to be conducted into

Everything in the world of culture and superiority
Has been successfully sold.
And whatever new comes along will be successfully sold.

I would warn anybody against a culture
Which the superior classes are making money out of.