Birds, Beasts, and Flowers!

D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930) made a contribution to poetry that, in the words of Lousie Bogan, “can now be recognized as one of the most important, in any language, of our time.” Birds, Beasts, and Flowers!, his first great experiment in free verse, was published when he was thirty-eight. This Black Sparrow edition re-sets the text in the format of the first edition (New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1923) and restores several “indecent” lines suppressed by the original publisher. Lawrence’s original jacket artwork is reproduced on the jacket in full color.

Many of these individual poems are popular in anthologies – they are best read, however, in the context and continuum of the whole book. In preparing the original collection for publication, Lawrence grouped the poems in a purposeful sequence and prefaced many of the subsections with brief quotations from the third edition of John Burnet’s Early Greek Philosophy, which particularly interested him at the time.

He believed in writing poetry that was stark, immediate and true to the mysterious inner force which motivated it. Many of his best-loved poems treat the physical and inner life of plants and animals; others are bitterly satiric and express his outrage at the puritanism and hypocrisy of conventional Anglo-Saxon Society
Academy of American Poets

Birds, Beasts, and Flowers is the peak of Lawrence’s achievement as a poet…like the romantics [his] starting point in these poems is a personal encounter between himself and some animals or flowers, but, unlike romantics, he never confuses the feelings they arouse in him with what he sees and hears and knows about them. The lucidity of his language matches the intensity of his vision; he can make the reader see what he is saying as very few writers can.
—W.H. Auden

David Herbert Lawrence was born in 1885 in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England. Though better known as a novelist, his first published works were poems, and his poetry, especially his evocations of the natural world, have since had a significant influence on many poets on both side of the Atlantic. He was charged with obscenity and persecuted during World War I for the supposed German sypmathies of his wife, Frieda. Consequently, they traveled around the world, spending considerable time in Taos, New Mexico, where Lawrence became a celebrity attraction. He died in France in 1930.