The Poems 2 Volume Hardback Set (Vol. 2, Variorum)

Peter Howarth writes:

I admit that the advert announcing this authoritative critical edition of D.H. Lawrence’s poems made me snort. The painstaking collation of every textual variant seems an odd aim in the case of a writer like Lawrence, who wrote of ‘mutation, swifter than iridescence, haste, not rest, come-and-go, not fixity, inconclusiveness, immediacy’. Hadn’t he advised the readers of his final and longest volume, Pansies, not to bother poring over poems? ‘A flower passes, and that perhaps is the best of it,’ the preface to Pansies says. Wouldn’t freeze-framing every shifting mood of these ‘casual thoughts that are true while they are true and irrelevant when the mood and circumstance changes’ inevitably pit the edition against the poetics? By the time the hundreds of pages of Lawrence’s unpublished notebook poems had been documented as well, painstaking accuracy would surely feel like grim editorial revenge. Even the poems censored from Pansies, Lawrence admitted, were ‘amusing, not terribly important’.

(LRB 22 May 2014)