by: D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)

      AKING his advances
      He does not look at her, nor sniff at her,
      No, not even sniff at her, his nose is blank.
      Only he senses the vulnerable folds of skin
      That work beneath her while she sprawls along
      In her ungainly pace,
      Her folds of skin that work and row
      Beneath the earth-soiled hovel in which she moves.
      And so he strains beneath her housey walls
      And catches her trouser-legs in his beak
      Suddenly, or her skinny limb,
      And strange and grimly drags at her
      Like a dog,
      Only agelessly silent, with a reptile's awful persistency.
      Grim, gruesome gallantry, to which he is doomed.
      Dragged out of an eternity of silent isolation
      And doomed to partiality, partial being,
      Ache, and want of being,
      Self-exposure, hard humiliation, need to add himself on to her.
      Born to walk alone,
      Now suddenly distracted into this mazy sidetrack,
      This awkward, harrowing pursuit,
      This grim necessity from within.
      Does she know
      As she moves eternally slowly away?
      Or is he driven against her with a bang, like a bird flying in the dark against a window,
      All knowledgeless?
      The awful concession,
      And the still more awful need to persist, to follow, follow, continue,
      Driven, after æons of pristine, fore-god-like singleness and oneness,
      At the end of some mysterious, red-hot iron,
      Driven away from himself into her tracks,
      Forced to crash against her.
      Stiff, gallant, irascible, crook-legged reptile,
      Little gentleman,
      Sorry plight,
      We ought to look the other way.
      Save that, having come with you so far,
      We will go on to the end.

"Tortoise Gallantry" is reprinted from Tortoises. D.H. Lawrence. New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1921.




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