In Search of D. H. Lawrence’s Sicilian House

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle goes on his travels to Taormina in Sicily, where D. H. Lawrence lived

One tends to associate D. H. Lawrence with his native Nottinghamshire, although Lawrence left his mark on a great number of places. Helen Corke, for instance, even wrote a book with the unpromising-sounding title D. H. Lawrence: The Croydon Years. One of the places most indelibly associated with D. H. Lawrence is Italy, including the island of Sicily, where Lawrence was resident between 1920 and 1922, following a difficult First World War (during which he was accused of being a German spy; it didn’t help that he’d fled England with Frieda von Richtofen, distant relation of the infamous Red Baron) and, like Keats and other consumptives before him, in an attempt to find a more salubrious climate to lessen the symptoms of his tuberculosis.

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A Short Analysis of D. H. Lawrence’s ‘Autumn Rain’

‘Autumn Rain’ is not one of D. H. Lawrence’s most famous poems. He wrote a great deal of poetry, and whilst some of it falls short of the greatness we associate with his novels and short stories, ‘Autumn Rain’ shows his delicate control of poetic syntax and his inventiveness with imagery. Here is ‘Autumn Rain’ and a few words of analysis.

Autumn Rain

The plane leaves
fall black and wet
on the lawn;

the cloud sheaves
in heaven’s fields set
droop and are drawn

in falling seeds of rain;
the seed of heaven
on my face

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A Short Analysis of D. H. Lawrence’s ‘Snake’

‘Snake’ is probably D. H. Lawrence’s best-known poem. Lawrence wrote ‘Snake’ while he was living on the island of Sicily, in the beautiful resort, Taormina, on the east side of the island. ‘Snake’ is conversational in tone, which makes it reasonably accessible; nevertheless, some words of analysis on the poem’s language and meaning may be useful.

Snake

A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there.

In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob tree
I came down the steps with my pitcher
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me.

He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom
And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of the stone trough
And rested his throat upon the stone bottom,
And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness,
He sipped with his straight mouth,
Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body,
Silently.

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The Best D. H. Lawrence Stories Everyone Should Read

Are these D. H. Lawrence’s greatest short stories? Selected by Dr Oliver Tearle

D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) wrote novels, short stories, and poems, among many other things. Although he died in his mid-forties – from tuberculosis – he was a prolific writer who left behind a vast body of work, including many short stories. Below, we’ve picked five of Lawrence’s very best short stories, and said a little bit about each of them.

The Rocking-Horse Winner’. ‘The Rocking-Horse Winner’ was first published in 1926. It’s a story about luck, money, and success, and the dangers of chasing after these and investing too much in them. But how we should analyse and interpret the story remains unclear. The story focuses on a young boy, Paul, who wishes to win money for his mother and who manages to do so by riding his rocking-horse until he enters a state of near-frenzy and he manages to ‘predict’ the name of the horse that will win the next major race. He does this several times, winning ever greater sums of money for his mother, egged on by his Uncle Oscar in whom he confides about the rocking-horse trick. But such a winning streak cannot go on forever…

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A Short Analysis of D. H. Lawrence’s ‘Tickets, Please’

On Lawrence’s classic short story about the war between the sexes

‘Tickets, Please’ was first published in 1918, while the First World War was still raging. But D. H. Lawrence’s short story of love, sex, betrayal, and vengeance is set on the home front rather than the western front, and centres on the battle of the sexes rather than the horrific conflict in northern France and Belgium. You can read ‘Tickets, Please’ here.

In summary, ‘Tickets, Please’ is a story about a man who works on the trams of Nottingham during the First World War. John Thomas – his very name is slang for the ‘male member’, or penis – is a cock of the walk, a jack the lad, a man who thinks he has it all. Curiously, though, this is 1918 and he’s not ‘at the front’: he’s not fighting in the war. Why? Lawrence doesn’t tell us, but it raises interesting questions. Does this cast a shadow over his ‘manliness’?

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