The Evening Land

By D.H. Lawrence

first published in Poetry: a magazine of verse, 1922 (Vol.xxi | No. ii)

The sun sets in you!
Are you the grave of our day?

Shall I come to you, the open tomb of my race?

I would come, if I felt my hour had struck;
I would rather you came to me.

For that matter,
Mahomet never went to any mountain
Save it had first approached him and cajoled his soul.

You have cajoled the souls of millions of us,

Why won’t you cajole my soul?
I wish you would.

I confess I am afraid of you.

The catastrophe of your exaggerate love,
You who never find yourself in love
But only lose yourself further, decomposing.

You who never recover, out of the orgasm of loving,
Your pristine isolate integrity, lost aeons ago,
Your singleness within the universe.

You who in loving break down,
And break further and further down
Your bounds of isolation,
But who never rise, resurrected, from this grave of mingling,
In a new proud singleness, America.

Your more-than-European idealism,
Like a be-aureoled, bleached skeleton hovering
Its cage-ribs in the social heaven, beneficent.

And then your single resurrection
Into machine-uprisen perfect man.

Even the winged skeleton of your bleached ideal
Is not so frightening as that clean smooth
Automaton of your uprisen self,
Machine American.

Do you wonder that I am afraid to come
And answer the first machine-cut question from the lips of your iron men?—
Put the first cents into metallic fingers of your officers,
And sit beside the steel-straight arms of your fair women,

I am so terrified, America,
Of the solid click of your human contact;
And after this
The winding-sheet of your selfless ideal love—
Boundless love,
Like a poison gas.

Does no one realize that love should be intense,
Not boundless?
This boundless love is like the bad smell
Of something gone wrong in the middle—
All this philanthropy and benevolence on other people’s behalf
Just a bad smell.

Yet, America,
Your elvishness,
Your New England uncanniness,
Your western brutal faery quality.

My soul is half-cajoled, half-cajoled.

Something in you which carries me beyond,
Yankee, Yankee—
What we call human—
Carries me where I want to he carried.

What does it matter
What we call human, and what we don’t call human?
The rose would smell as sweet.
And to be limited by a mere word is to be less than a hopping flea, which hops over such an obstruction at his first jump.

Your horrible, skeleton, aureoled ideal;
Your weird bright perfect productive mechanism—
Two spectres.

But moreover,
A dark unfathomed wistfulness, utterly un-Jewish;
A grave stoic endurance, non-European;
An ultimate fearlessness, un-African;
An irrational generosity, non-Oriental.

The strange unaccustomed geste of your elvish, New World nature
Glimpsed now and then.

Nobody knows you;
You don’t know yourself.
And I, who am half in love with you,
What am I in love with—
My own imaginings?
Say it is not so.

Say, through the branches,
America, America,
Of all your machines;
Say, in the deep sockets of your idealistic skull—
Dark aboriginal eyes,
Stoic, able to wait through ages,

Say, in the sound of all your machines
And white words, white-wash American—
Deep pulsing of a strange heart,
New throb, like a stirring under the false dawn that precedes the real.

Nascent American,
Elvish, lurking among the undergrowth
Of many-stemmed machines and chimneys that smoke like pine-trees.

Dark faery,
Modern, unissued, instinctive America,
Your nascent faery people
Lurking among the deeps of your industrial thicket,
Allure me till I am beside myself,
A nympholept.

“These States!” as Whitman said—
Whatever he meant!