Monday, August 2, 2010

Innocent England

Background : The poem is a delicious satire that celebrates Lawrence’s contempt and indignation at the suppression of his exhibition of paintings in London in 1929; the authorities feared for public morals because he painted accurate anatomical details on his nudes. Read this for more information on the exhibition and the paintings therein.

Innocent England
By D.H.Lawrence

Oh what a pity, Oh! Don’t you agree
that figs aren’t found in the land of the free!

Fig trees don’t grow in my native land;
there’s never a fig-tree near at hand

when you want one; so I did without;
and that is what this row’s all about.

Virginal, pure policemen came
and hid their faces for very shame,

while they carried the shameless things away
to gaol, to be hid from the light of day.

And Mr. Mead, that old, old lily
Said: ‘Gross! coarse! hideous!’ – and I, like a silly

thought he meant the faces of the police-court officials,
and how right he was, and I signed my initials,

to confirm what he said: but alas, he meant
my pictures, and on the proceedings went.

The upshot was, my pictures must burn
that English artists might finally learn

when they painted a nude, to put a cache sexe on,
a cache sexe, a cache sexe, or else begone!

A fig-leaf; or, if you cannot find it
a wreath of mist, with nothing behind it.

A wreath of mist is the usual thing
In the north, to hide where the turtles sing.

Though they never sing, they never sing,
Don’t you dare to suggest such a thing

or Mr. Mead will be after you
- But what a pity I never knew

A wreath of English mist would do
As a cache sexe! I’d have put a whole fog.

But once and forever barks the old dog,
so my pictures are in prison, instead of in the Zoo.

Comments : Apart from the fact that this poem is hilarious, I think it is apt at a time when the moral police and the politically-correct-brigade are flexing their muscles so much – no defaming a living person, or dishonouring the memory of a noble soul, or hurting someone’s sentiments....; or else, 'Ban this movie ! Burn that book ! Slash this painting ! Vandalise this library !'
- By Zen

No comments: