Poetry

D. H. Lawrence – Phoenix

“Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, cancelled,
made nothing?
Are you willing to be made nothing?
dipped into oblivion?”

– D. H. Lawrence


In her Eagle Poem, Joy Harjo expresses gratitude for the blessing of being born and dying soon ‘within a true circle of motion’ like eagle who rounds out the morning. Like the eagle, the phoenix is another bird identified with cycles and regeneration, and the mythological creature was taken up by the author D. H. Lawrence as his own symbolic emblem. In this poem, Lawrence considers what is necessary for true change, and he finds his answer in the legend of the phoenix, who has to be burnt thoroughly and burnt while alive in order to regenerate herself again. His poem is a call to action that asks, are you willing, are you ready to be erased and made nothing? To wholeheartedly let go, so that you can wholeheartedly live?


Phoenix

Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, cancelled,
made nothing?
Are you willing to be made nothing?
dipped into oblivion?


If not, you will never really change.


The phoenix renews her youth
only when she is burnt, burnt alive, burnt down
to hot and flocculent ash.
Then the small stirring of a new small bub in the nest
with strands of down like floating ash
shows that she is renewing her youth like the eagle,
immortal bird.

D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930)

Leave a Reply