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: