Tag Archives: villanelle

D H Lawrence Wonders What’s For His Tea – A Poem

Here’s the poem I had published in Obsessed with Pipework back in February. It is published in paper form rather than on the internet, which means I can’t link to it at the time of publication. I’m not sure what the precise etiquette is with quoting it after that, but it seems reasonable to do it once the next issue is out. That arrived this week, so it seems as good a time as any.

It’s meant to be tongue in cheek, but I’m worried that published alongside more serious poetry it might look like I’m being serious. This is not a poem about the dietary requirements of a well-known Nottinghamshire writer, it’s a poem showing that even serious literary heavyweights get hungry, and that they just dawdle about waiting to be served. D. H. Lawrence does not strike me as the sort of man who would make his own tea. I know he was considered advanced for his time but I’m not sure that this extended to housework.

I should read up on him, and as Julia’s uncle wrote a couple of biographies of Lawrence, which we have in the house, I have no excuse.

It has the rhyme scheme of a villanelle, but I couldn’t get the lines to the correct length without adding words to pad them out, so I gave up. It’s probably best described as “modelled on a villanelle” but ” a poor attempt at a villanelle” would also be fair. For a good villanelle, try here, or here.

In the end, as has been said by many people, you don’t finish a poem, you just abandon it. After hacking away at this one for nearly three years, I decided it was time to set it free.

D H Lawrence Wonders What’s For His Tea

The kettle sits on the hearth and sings
and Eastwood seems so far away.
He writes of snakes and other phallic things
and wonders what teatime will bring,
coughing gently at the close of day.
The kettle sits on the hearth and sings.
Dusk closes in on phoenix wings,
with thoughts of mothers and mortality.
He writes of snakes and other phallic things,
thinks of muffins, jam and apron strings,
and crumpets laid out on a tray.
The kettle sits on the hearth and sings
as he stretches out his stiffening limbs.
Could life have gone another way?
He writes of snakes and other phallic things,
ponders the fates of men and kings
and wonders where life went astray.
The kettle sits on the hearth and sings:
he writes of snakes, and other phallic things.