Verse > D.H. Lawrence > New Poems
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D.H. Lawrence (1885–1930).  New Poems.  1916.

36. Intime


RETURNING, I find her just the same, 
At just the same old delicate game. 
  
Still she says: “Nay, loose no flame 
To lick me up and do me harm! 
Be all yourself!—for oh, the charm         5
Of your heart of fire in which I look! 
Oh, better there than in any book 
Glow and enact the dramas and dreams 
I love for ever!—there it seems 
You are lovelier than life itself, till desire  10
Comes licking through the bars of your lips 
And over my face the stray fire slips, 
Leaving a burn and an ugly smart 
That will have the oil of illusion. Oh, heart 
Of fire and beauty, loose no more  15
Your reptile flames of lust; ah, store 
Your passion in the basket of your soul, 
Be all yourself, one bonny, burning coal 
That stays with steady joy of its own fire. 
But do not seek to take me by desire.  20
Oh, do not seek to thrust on me your fire! 
For in the firing all my porcelain 
Of flesh does crackle and shiver and break in pain, 
My ivory and marble black with stain, 
My veil of sensitive mystery rent in twain,  25
My altars sullied, I, bereft, remain 
A priestess execrable, taken in vain——” 
  
          So the refrain 
Sings itself over, and so the game 
Re-starts itself wherein I am kept  30
Like a glowing brazier faintly blue of flame 
So that the delicate love-adept 
Can warm her hands and invite her soul, 
Sprinkling incense and salt of words 
And kisses pale, and sipping the toll  35
Of incense-smoke that rises like birds. 
  
Yet I’ve forgotten in playing this game, 
Things I have known that shall have no name; 
Forgetting the place from which I came 
I watch her ward away the flame,  40
Yet warm herself at the fire—then blame 
Me that I flicker in the basket; 
Me that I glow not with content 
To have my substance so subtly spent; 
Me that I interrupt her game.  45
I ought to be proud that she should ask it 
Of me to be her fire-opal—. 
  
               It is well 
Since I am here for so short a spell 
Not to interrupt her?—Why should I  50
Break in by making any reply! 


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