'Bavarian Gentians' by D.H. Lawrence

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Not every man has gentians in his house
in Soft September, at slow, Sad Michaelmas.Bavarian gentians, big and dark, only dark
darkening the daytime torchlike with the smoking blueness of Pluto'sgloom,
ribbed and torchlike, with their blaze of darkness spread blue
down flattening into points, flattened under the sweep of white day
torch-flower of the blue-smoking darkness, Pluto's dark-blue daze,
black lamps from the halls of Dis, burning dark blue,
giving off darkness, blue darkness, as Demeter's pale lamps give offlight,
lead me then, lead me the way.Reach me a gentian, give me a torch
let me guide myself with the blue, forked torch of this flower
down the darker and darker stairs, where blue is darkened on blueness.
even where Persephone goes, just now, from the frosted September
to the sightless realm where darkness was awake upon the dark
and Persephone herself is but a voice
or a darkness invisible enfolded in the deeper dark
of the arms Plutonic, and pierced with the passion of dense gloom,
among the splendor of torches of darkness, shedding darkness on thelost bride and groom.

Editor 1 Interpretation

A Deep Dive into Bavarian Gentians by D.H. Lawrence

Are you ready to embark on a journey through the picturesque landscape of the Bavarian Alps, exploring the intricate emotions and thoughts evoked by D.H. Lawrence's poem, Bavarian Gentians? This poetic masterpiece is a remarkable representation of the human experience, encapsulating the themes of life, death, and the transient nature of existence.

At first glance, the poem seems straightforward, depicting a speaker's admiration for the beauty of the gentian flowers, which bloom on the Bavarian mountainsides. However, as we delve deeper into the poem's intricacies, we discover a profound meditation on mortality and the fleetingness of life.

The Transience of Life

The opening lines of the poem set the tone for the exploration of the theme of transience. The speaker describes the gentians as "blue-blue," emphasizing the vividness and intensity of their color. However, the repetition of the word "blue" also creates a sense of depth and ambiguity, hinting at the complexities of life and its fleeting nature.

As the speaker continues to describe the gentians, he highlights their delicate and ephemeral nature, referring to them as "frail" and "fleeting." The metaphorical language in the lines "Their blue mouths / Alive with pain" conveys the idea that life is a painful and fleeting experience, much like the gentian flowers that bloom in the harsh conditions of the mountainous terrain.

The poem's title, Bavarian Gentians, is also significant in the context of the theme of transience. The location of the gentians' bloom is essential, as it suggests that the beauty of life is often found in unexpected places and fleeting moments.

Death and the Afterlife

As we continue to explore the poem's complexities, we cannot ignore the role of death and the afterlife in the speaker's meditation. The lines "death-lament of the flowers" suggest that the gentians are aware of their mortality and are mourning their inevitable demise.

The speaker's comparison of the gentians to "dead men" further emphasizes the connection between life and death. The metaphorical language in the lines "And the smell of their death / Is a difficult smell" creates a sense of unease, suggesting that death is an uncomfortable and complicated experience.

However, the poem is not entirely bleak in its exploration of death. The lines "And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose / My youth is bent by the same wintry fever" suggest that the speaker sees a sense of continuity between life and death. The crooked rose, a symbol of youthful beauty, is also bent by the "wintry fever" of time, suggesting that the speaker sees death as a natural part of the cycle of life.

The Power of Nature

One cannot discuss Bavarian Gentians without exploring the role of nature in the poem. Lawrence's love and reverence for nature are evident throughout the poem, as he describes the beauty of the gentians in vivid detail.

The lines "The mountains are a trap" suggest that the beauty of nature can also be dangerous and deadly. However, the speaker's admiration for the gentians and his willingness to brave the dangers of the mountains to witness their beauty convey the idea that nature's power can be both awe-inspiring and humbling.


In conclusion, Bavarian Gentians is a remarkable poetic masterpiece that explores the complexities of life, death, and the transient nature of existence. The poem's vivid imagery, metaphorical language, and exploration of nature and mortality make it a profound meditation on the human experience.

As we journey through the Bavarian mountains with the speaker, we are reminded that life is fleeting and that death is an inevitable part of the cycle of life. However, the poem's exploration of the beauty of nature and the continuity between life and death provides a sense of comfort and solace, suggesting that life is a beautiful and meaningful experience, even in the face of mortality.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Bavarian Gentians: A Masterpiece by D.H. Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence, the renowned English writer, poet, and literary critic, is known for his unique style of writing that often explores the complexities of human emotions and relationships. One of his most celebrated works is the poem "Bavarian Gentians," which is considered a masterpiece of modernist poetry. This poem is a perfect example of Lawrence's ability to capture the essence of human emotions and express them in a way that is both profound and beautiful.

The poem "Bavarian Gentians" was first published in 1923, and it has since become one of Lawrence's most famous works. The poem is a tribute to the beauty and power of nature, as well as a reflection on the human experience of longing and loss. The poem is composed of six stanzas, each of which is made up of four lines. The poem's structure is simple, but its language is rich and evocative, creating a powerful emotional impact on the reader.

The poem begins with the speaker describing the beauty of the Bavarian gentians, which are a type of flower that grows in the mountains of Bavaria. The speaker marvels at the gentians' deep blue color, which he describes as "dark beyond dark." The speaker is so captivated by the gentians' beauty that he declares that they are "the flower of the mountain," and that they are "never to be forgotten."

The second stanza of the poem shifts the focus from the gentians to the speaker's own emotions. The speaker describes himself as feeling "lonely" and "lost," and he longs for the gentians to "take him away" from his troubles. The speaker's desire to escape his own emotions is a common theme in Lawrence's work, and it reflects the writer's own struggles with depression and anxiety.

In the third stanza, the speaker continues to describe his emotional state, but he also begins to explore the idea of death. He imagines himself as a "dead man" lying among the gentians, and he wonders if the flowers would still be beautiful to him in death. This idea of finding beauty in death is another recurring theme in Lawrence's work, and it reflects his belief that life and death are interconnected.

The fourth stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. The speaker declares that the gentians are "deadly" and that they have the power to "kill" him. This idea of the gentians as both beautiful and dangerous is a paradox that Lawrence explores throughout the poem. The speaker is both drawn to the gentians' beauty and afraid of their power, reflecting the complex nature of human emotions.

In the fifth stanza, the speaker returns to the idea of death, imagining himself as a "ghost" wandering among the gentians. He wonders if the flowers would still be beautiful to him in death, or if their beauty is only meaningful to the living. This idea of the transience of beauty is another recurring theme in Lawrence's work, and it reflects his belief that all things, including beauty, are fleeting.

The final stanza of the poem brings the speaker's journey full circle. He declares that the gentians are "forever" and that they will never be forgotten. The speaker has come to realize that the gentians, like all things in nature, are eternal and that their beauty will endure long after he is gone. This realization brings the speaker a sense of peace and acceptance, as he comes to terms with his own mortality.

In conclusion, "Bavarian Gentians" is a masterpiece of modernist poetry that explores the complex nature of human emotions and the beauty and power of nature. Through his use of rich and evocative language, Lawrence creates a powerful emotional impact on the reader, capturing the essence of the human experience of longing and loss. The poem's themes of beauty, death, and transience are recurring themes in Lawrence's work, reflecting his belief that all things, including beauty, are fleeting. "Bavarian Gentians" is a timeless work of art that continues to resonate with readers today, a testament to Lawrence's skill as a writer and his ability to capture the essence of the human experience.

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