Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Turkey-cock
By D. H. Lawrence
 
YOU ruffled black blossom,
You glossy dark wind.
 
Your sort of gorgeousness,
Dark and lustrous
And unfathomable        5
And poppy-glossy,
Is the gorgeousness that evokes my darkest admiration.
 
Your aboriginality,
Deep, unexplained,
Like a Red Indian darkly sumptuous and aloof,        10
Seems like the black and glossy seeds of wonderful centuries.
 
Your wattles are the color of steel which has been red hot
And is going cold,
Cooling to a powdery pale-oxidized sky-blue.
 
Why do you have wattles, and a naked wattled head?        15
Why do you arch your naked-set eye with a more than comprehensible haughtiness?
 
The vulture is bald; so is the condor, obscenely;
But only you have thrown this amazing mantilla of oxidized sky-blue
And hot red over you:
This queer fine shawl of blue and vermilion,        20
Whereas the peacock has a diadem.
 
I wonder why.
Perhaps it is a sort of Spanish discretion, a veil;
Perhaps it is your reserve, in all this ostentation.
Your wattles drip down like a shawl to your breast,        25
And the point of your mantilla drops across your nose.
 
Some races veil the head,
And some put flowers in the hair, to attract attention.
 
Or perhaps there is something in your wattles of a bull’s dew-lap,
Which slips down like a pendulum to balance the throbbing mass of a generous breast,        30
The over-drip of a great passion hanging in the balance.
 
You contract yourself;
You arch yourself as an archer’s bow,
Which quivers indrawn as you clench your spine,
Until your veiled head almost touches backward        35
To the root-rising of your erected tail;
And one intense and backward-curving frisson
Seizes you as you clench yourself together
Like some fierce magnet bringing its poles together.
 
Burning, pale positive pole of your wattled head!        40
And from the darkness of that opposite one
The upstart of your round-barred, sun-round tail!
Whilst between the two, along the tense arched curve of your back,
Blows the magnetic current in fierce blasts,
Ruffling black shining feathers like lifted mail,        45
Shuddering storm wind, or a water rushing through.
 
Your august super-sensual haughtiness
Tosses the crape of red across your brow and down your breast
As you draw yourself upon yourself in pride.
 
It is a declaration of such tension in pride        50
As Time has not dared to avouch, nor eternity been unable to unbend,
Do what it may.
 
The peacock lifts his rods of bronze
And struts blue-brilliant out of the far East;
But watch a turkey prancing low on earth,        55
Drumming his vaulted wings as savages drum
Their rhythms on long-drawn hollow sinister drums—
The ponderous sombre sound of the great drum of Huichilobos
In pyramid Mexico, during sacrifice.
Drum, and the turkey onrush,        60
Sudden demoniac dauntlessness, full abreast,
All the bronze gloss of all his myriad petals
Each one apart and instant.
Delicate frail crescent of the gentle outline of white
At each feather-tip,        65
So delicate;
Yet the bronze wind-bell suddenly clashing,
And the eye over-weening into madness.
 
Turkey-cock, turkey-cock,
Are you the bird of the next dawn?        70
 
Has the peacock had his day, does he call in vain, screecher, for the sun to rise?
The eagle, the dove, and the barnyard shouter, do they call in vain, trying to wake the morrow?
And do you await us, wattled father, Westward?
Will your yell do it?
 
Take up the trail of the vanished American        75
Where it disappeared at the foot of the crucifix.
Take up the primordial pride,
The more than human, dense magnificence,
And disdain, and indifference, and onrush; and pry open the new day with them.
 
Is the East a dead letter, and Europe moribund?        80
But those sumptuous, dead, feather-lustrous Aztecs, Amerindians,
In all the sombre splendor of their red blood,
Stand under the dawn, half-godly, awaiting the cry of the turkey-cock?
 
 
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