Verse > D.H. Lawrence > New Poems

D.H. Lawrence (1885–1930).  New Poems.  1916.

22. Embankment at Night, before the War


BY the river 
In the black wet night as the furtive rain slinks down, 
Dropping and starting from sleep 
Alone on a seat 
A woman crouches.         5
I must go back to her. 
I want to give her 
Some money. Her hand slips out of the breast of her gown 
Asleep. My fingers creep 
Carefully over the sweet  10
Thumb-mound, into the palm’s deep pouches. 
So, the gift! 
God, how she starts! 
And looks at me, and looks in the palm of her hand! 
And again at me!  15
I turn and run 
Down the Embankment, run for my life. 
But why?—why? 
Because of my heart’s 
Beating like sobs, I come to myself, and stand  20
In the street spilled over splendidly 
With wet, flat lights. What I’ve done 
I know not, my soul is in strife. 
The touch was on the quick. I want to forget. 



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