Gentians for Carole

Gentians for Carole

Not every man has gentians in his house
in Soft September, at slow, Sad Michaelmas.

—D. H. Lawrence, Bavarian Gentians



Slow, sad September, soft, and yes, still sad.


Not every house has autumn flowers,

and I have never seen a gentian with my living eyes.

Did you?—like Lawrence, dizzied by the blue

and spinning in his words?


The blue, repeating blues, the smoking dark;

the burning blue of Dis he muses on so long,

his darkened-on-blueness blue.

Reach me a gentian, give me a torch!


Light-seeker, Sun-searcher, sluicing off

the carbon black: south, east, west,

whichever place the compass gifts him heat.


No wonder he reached for gentians then,

roots plumbing shades that echo Pluto-deep

but offering fields of late-year light.


I hear the wind up on high meadows,

rippling through grass, the mountain lungs

wide-studded with a swooning blue.


Blue balm to the eyes

and on the tongue,

the healing bitter of gentian root.


We have been together in those dark halls,

absorbing our Autumn news

in frosted September’s chill.

Each one of us, some time, Persephone,


but grateful for colour, light

and meadow flowers

late into bittersweet Fall.


In Nottingham, barefoot, he’s always holding one.

Your ashes found the soil around Spring crocuses.


Give us such torch-flowers to see us through the days—

the hot-white blur and daze of racing life,

the softly rising mist of violet hours.


i.m. Carole Rae Blake
29 September 1946–25 October 2016


Lines from “Bavarian Gentians” by D. H. Lawrence in “Gentians for Carole” are from The Cambridge Edition of the Works of D. H. Lawrence: The Poems edited by Christopher Pollnitz, © Cambridge University Press 2013. Reproduced by permission of Paper Lion Ltd, The Estate of Frieda Lawrence Ravagli and Cambridge University Press.