“Elan Vital” by Sherard Vines

Elan Vital

I lay in the tepid mud

Grey-drab, bubbling here and there with steam,

A cell

Rebellious, derisive of my creator's

Incoherent gropings.

I would be the sport no longer

Of his bovine essays in creation!


The other cells,

Ere they dissolved meekly back

Into inorganism

Tried, at my effrontery

To develop shocked hands

That they might hold them up protesting.

I laughed cells' laughter

And said; " I am life; see me live,"

I died laughing.


I was the creeping things

Slime-tracking the thundered on

Primaeval strata.

[ . . . ]

Sherard Vines' poem "Elan Vital" was published in the 1919 "cycle" of Wheels. To read this poem in full in a digitized version of this publication, follow the link(s) below:


The Modernist Journals Project

Librivox audio recording hosted on Archive.org