It’s lovely to step away from copywriting for a while and indulge in other people’s creativity. In the strange no-man’s land between Christmas and New Year, when everything seems slightly unreal, I’ve been catching up on some of my favourite poetry.
I’ve always loved this one because you can hear D H Lawrence getting crosser and crosser as the poem progresses. He starts off relatively calm. But by the end of it he’s worked himself up into a rant of epic proportions, delivering his cold hatred of the insect in a beautifully controlled, waspish way. His spiteful, eloquent, spiralling spleen makes me laugh every time. Brilliant.
Here’s one for the holidays. I’ll be back in the driving seat, fully refreshed, on 6th January.
The Mosquito – By D H Lawrence
When did you start your tricks
What do you stand on such high legs for?
Why this length of shredded shank
Is it so that you shall lift your centre of gravity upwards
And weigh no more than air as you alight upon me,
Stand upon me weightless, you phantom?
I heard a woman call you the Winged Victory
In sluggish Venice.
You turn your head towards your tail, and smile.
How can you put so much devilry
Into that translucent phantom shred
Of a frail corpus?
Queer, with your thin wings and your streaming legs
How you sail like a heron, or a dull clot of air,
Yet what an aura surrounds you;
Your evil little aura, prowling, and casting a numbness on my mind.
That is your trick, your bit of filthy magic:
Invisibility, and the anæsthetic power
To deaden my attention in your direction.
But I know your game now, streaky sorcerer.
Queer, how you stalk and prowl the air
In circles and evasions, enveloping me,
Ghoul on wings
Settle, and stand on long thin shanks
Eyeing me sideways, and cunningly conscious that I am aware,
I hate the way you lurch off sideways into air
Having read my thoughts against you.
Come then, let us play at unawares,
And see who wins in this sly game of bluff.
Man or mosquito.
You don’t know that I exist, and I don’t know that you exist.
It is your trump
It is your hateful little trump
You pointed fiend,
Which shakes my sudden blood to hatred of you:
It is your small, high, hateful bugle in my ear.
Why do you do it?
Surely it is bad policy.
They say you can’t help it.
If that is so, then I believe a little in Providence protecting the innocent.
But it sounds so amazingly like a slogan
A yell of triumph as you snatch my scalp.
Blood, red blood
I behold you stand
For a second enspasmed in oblivion,
Sucking live blood
Such silence, such suspended transport,
Such obscenity of trespass.
As well as you may.
Only your accursed hairy frailty
Your own imponderable weightlessness
Saves you, wafts you away on the very draught my anger makes in its snatching.
Away with a pæan of derision
You winged blood-drop.
Can I not overtake you?
Are you one too many for me
Am I not mosquito enough to out-mosquito you?
Queer, what a big stain my sucked blood makes
Beside the infinitesimal faint smear of you!
Queer, what a dim dark smudge you have disappeared into!