“Scent of Irises” by D.H. Lawrence

Scent of Irises

A faint, sickening scent of irises
Persists all morning. Here in a jar on the table
A fine proud spike of purple irises
Rising above the class-room litter, makes me unable
To see the class's lifted and bended faces
Save in a broken pattern, amid purple and gold and sable.


I can smell the gorgeous bog-end, in its breathless
Dazzle of may-blobs, when the marigold glare overcast
You with fire on your brow and your cheeks and your chin
             as you dipped
Your face in your marigold bunch, to touch and contrast
Your own dark mouth with the bridal faint lady-smocks
Dissolved in the golden sorcery you should not outlast.


You amid the bog-end's yellow incantation,
You sitting in the cowslips of the meadows above,
— Me, your shadow on the bog-flame, flowery may-blobs,
Me full length in the cowslips, muttering you love —
You, your soul like a lady-smock, lost, evanescent,
You, with your face all rich, like the sheen on a dove — !


You are always asking, do I remember, remember
The buttercup bog-end where the flowers rose up
And kindled you over deep with a coat of gold?
You ask again, do the healing days close up
The open darkness which then drew us in,
The dark that swallows all, and nought throws up.


You upon the dry, dead beech-leaves, in the fire of night
Burnt like a sacrifice; — you invisible —
Only the fire of darkness, and the scent of you!
— And yes, thank God, it still is possible
The healing days shall close the darkness up
Wherein I breathed you like a smoke or dew.


Like vapour, dew, or poison. Now, thank God,
The golden fire has gone, and your face is ash
Indistinguishable in the grey, chill day,
The night has burnt you out, at last the good
Dark fire burns on untroubled without clash
Of you upon the dead leaves saying me yea.


D.H. Lawrence's poem "Scent of Irises" was published in the anthology Some Imagist Poets in 1915. To view it in digitized versions of this publication follow the links below:



The Modernist Journals Project

“Home Thoughts in Laventie” by Edward Wyndham Tennant

Home Thoughts in Laventie

Green gardens in Laventie!
Soldiers only know the street
Where the mud is churned and splashed about
By battle-wending feet;
And yet beside one stricken house there is a glimpse of grass,
Look for it when you pass.

Beyond the Church whose pitted spire
Seems balanced on a strand
Of swaying stone and tottering brick-
Two roofless ruins stand, [been
And here among the wreckage where the back wall should have
We found a garden green.

The grass was never trodden on,
The little path of gravel
Was overgrown with celandine,
No other folk did travel
Along its weedy surface, but the nimble-footed mouse
Running from house to house.

So all among the vivid blades
Of soft and tender grass
We lay, nor heard the limber wheels
That pass and ever pass,
In noisy continuity until their stony rattle
Seems in itself a battle.

At length we rose up from this ease
Of tranquil happy mind,
And searched the garden's little length
Some new pleasaunce to find ;
And there, some yellow daffodils and jasmine hanging high
Did rest the tired eye.

The fairest and most fragrant
Of the many sweets we found,
Was a little bush of Daphne flower
Upon a mossy mound,
And so thick were the blossoms set and so divine the scent
That we were well content.

Hungry for Spring I bent my head,
The perfume fanned my face,
And all my soul was dancing
In that little lovely place,
Dancing with a measured step from wrecked and shattered towns
Away . . . upon the Downs.

I saw green banks of daffodil,
Slim poplars in the breeze,
Great tan-brown hares in gusty March
A-courting on the leas ;
And meadows with their glittering streams, and silver
scurrying dace,
Home . . . what a perfect place.

Edward Wyndham Tennant's poem "Home Thoughts in Laventie" was published in the 1916 "cycle" (as the issues were called) of the Wheels poetry anthology. To read the poem in its publication context, visit the following links:


The Modernist Journals Project

“Iris” by Frances Gregg


Ah, bow your head, white sword flower,
Lest you pierce the thing you would save,
Lest your white beauty slay me.
Let your heart's blue stain
Plead for my frailty.


Frances Gregg's poem "Iris" was published in the 1916 Others anthology. To view digitized versions of this publication click the following links:


“Reciprocity” by John Drinkwater


I do not think that skies and meadows are
Moral, or that the fixture of a star
Comes of a quiet spirit, or that trees
Have wisdom in their windless silences.
Yet these are things invested in my mood
With constancy, and peace, and fortitude,
That in my troubled season I can cry
Upon the wide composure of the sky,
And envy fields, and wish that I might be
As little daunted as a star or tree.


You can read John Drinkwater's poem "Reciprocity" in Georgian Poetry 1916-1917, the anthology in which it was published. Follow the links to view digitized versions of this publication:


Project Gutenberg (HTML version)