D. H. Lawrence

Poetry on Peace

D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930):

Peace & The Secret Waters (1929)

Edited by Peter Y. Chou


Peace is written on the doorstep
In lava.

Peace, black peace congealed.
My heart will know no peace
Till the hill bursts.

Brilliant, intolerable lava,
Brilliant as a powerful burning-glass,
Walking like a royal snake down the mountain
      towards the sea.

Forests, cities, bridges
Gone again in the bright trail of lava.
Naxos thousands of feet below the olive-roots,
And now the olive leaves thousands of feet below
      the lava fire.

Peace congealed in black lava on the doorstep.
Within, white-hot lava, never at peace
Till it burst forth blinding, withering the earth;
To set again into rock,
Grey-black rock.

Call it Peace?



What was lost is found
what was wounded is sound,
The key of life on the bodies of men
unlocks the fountains of peace again.

The fountains of peace, the fountains of peace
well softly up for a new increase
but they bubble under the heavy wall
of this house of life that encloses us all.

They bubble under the heavy wall
that was once a house, and is now a prison,
and never a one among us all
knows that the waters have risen.

None of us knows, O none of us knows
the welling of peace when it rises and flows
in secret under the sickening wall
of the prison house that encloses us all.

And we shall not know, we shall not know
till the secret waters overflow
and loosen the brick and the hard cement
of the walls within which our lives are spent.

Till the walls begin to loosen and crack,
to gape, and our house is going to wrack
and ruin above us, and the crash of release
is death to us all, in the marshes of peace.

D. H. Lawrence, "Peace" & "The Secret Waters"
from The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence
Edited by Vivian de Sola Pinto & Warren Roberts
Volume 1, Viking Press, NY, 1964, pp. 293-294, 461-462

Notes: "Peace" appeared in Unrhymed Poems section of Collected Poems (1929).
"The Secret Waters" appeared in Pansies (1929).

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