You know what it is to be born alone, Baby tortoise! The first day to heave your feet little by little from the shell, Not yet awake, And remain lapsed on earth, Not quite alive. A tiny, fragile, half-animate bean. To open your tiny beak-mouth, that looks as if it would never open Like some iron door; To lift the upper hawk-beak from the lower base And reach your skinny neck And take your first bite at some dim bit of herbage, Alone, small insect, Tiny bright-eye, Slow one. To take your first solitary bite And move on your slow, solitary hunt. Your bright, dark little eye, Your eye of a dark disturbed night, Under its slow lid, tiny baby tortoise, So indomitable. No one ever heard you complain. You draw your head forward, slowly, from your little wimple And set forward, slow-dragging, on your four-pinned toes, Rowing slowly forward. Wither away, small bird? Rather like a baby working its limbs, Except that you make slow, ageless progress And a baby makes none. The touch of sun excites you, And the long ages, and the lingering chill Make you pause to yawn, Opening your impervious mouth, Suddenly beak-shaped, and very wide, like some suddenly gaping pincers; Soft red tongue, and hard thin gums, Then close the wedge of your little mountain front, Your face, baby tortoise. Do you wonder at the world, as slowly you turn your head in its wimple And look with laconic, black eyes? Or is sleep coming over you again, The non-life? You are so hard to wake. Are you able to wonder? Or is it just your indomitable will and pride of the first life Looking round And slowly pitching itself against the inertia Which had seemed invincible? The vast inanimate, And the fine brilliance of your so tiny eye, Challenger. Nay, tiny shell-bird. What a huge vast inanimate it is, that you must row against, What an incalculable inertia. Challenger, Little Ulysses, fore-runner, No bigger than my thumb-nail, Buon viaggio. All animate creation on your shoulder, Set forth, little Titan, under your battle-shield. The ponderous, preponderate, Inanimate universe; And you are slowly moving, pioneer, you alone. How vivid your travelling seems now, in the troubled sunshine, Stoic, Ulyssean atom; Suddenly hasty, reckless, on high toes. Voiceless little bird, Resting your head half out of your wimple In the slow dignity of your eternal pause. Alone, with no sense of being alone, And hence six times more solitary; Fulfilled of the slow passion of pitching through immemorial ages Your little round house in the midst of chaos. Over the garden earth, Small bird, Over the edge of all things. Traveller, With your tail tucked a little on one side Like a gentleman in a long-skirted coat. All life carried on your shoulder, Invincible fore-runner.
D. H. Lawrence - 1885-1930
How Beastly the Bourgeois Is
How beastly the bourgeois is especially the male of the species-- Presentable, eminently presentable-- shall I make you a present of him? Isn't he handsome? Isn't he healthy? Isn't he a fine specimen? Doesn't he look the fresh clean Englishman, outside? Isn't it God's own image? tramping his thirty miles a day after partridges, or a little rubber ball? wouldn't you like to be like that, well off, and quite the thing Oh, but wait! Let him meet a new emotion, let him be faced with another man's need, let him come home to a bit of moral difficulty, let life face him with a new demand on his understanding and then watch him go soggy, like a wet meringue. Watch him turn into a mess, either a fool or a bully. Just watch the display of him, confronted with a new demand on his intelligence, a new life-demand. How beastly the bourgeois is especially the male of the species-- Nicely groomed, like a mushroom standing there so sleek and erect and eyeable-- and like a fungus, living on the remains of a bygone life sucking his life out of the dead leaves of greater life than his own. And even so, he's stale, he's been there too long. Touch him, and you'll find he's all gone inside just like an old mushroom, all wormy inside, and hollow under a smooth skin and an upright appearance. Full of seething, wormy, hollow feelings rather nasty-- How beastly the bourgeois is! Standing in their thousands, these appearances, in damp England what a pity they can't all be kicked over like sickening toadstools, and left to melt back, swiftly into the soil of England.