Inspired by D.H. Lawrence

I was perusing a poetry book that I used to read to son Harry when he was young and this short poem by D.H. Lawrence sparked my imaginings yet again.

Things Men Have Made

Things men have made with wakened hands, and put soft life into
are awake through years with transferred touch, and go on glowing
for long years.
And for this reason, some old things are lovely
warm still with the life of forgotten men who made them.

(D.H. Lawrence in 100 Great Poems: Favourite Poems and their Poets, Selected by Victoria Parker, 2000, Miles Kelly Publishing: Essex).

The little note about D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930) highlights the fact that he grew up in an English mining village, experiencing the poverty and harshness of life after the Industrial Revolution.

The poem was playing on my mind all day and last night I just had to make my way to the site of the old copper mines at Tankardstown here in Co. Waterford.

Old Copper Mining Works at Tankardstown, Co. Waterford.
Old Copper Mining Works at Tankardstown, Co. Waterford.

It was as if the the skies were aligned with my thoughts as they cast their softness right over the starkness of the works.

What old things would this poem bring to your mind? 

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

26 thoughts on “Inspired by D.H. Lawrence”

  1. I don’t have any personal possessions that are old but I do marvel at some of the older structures here in Ottawa. As the capital of Canada., all our Parliament buildings are over 100 years as are the houses in the area where I live.Most are built with stone or brick and are well maintained. The quality of workmanship is superb and you can still see care and love put into the structures:

  2. I really love this poem. I hadn’t heard it before. My Lawrence poetry reading has been confined to the poems that have been widely anthologized, although I used to be a HUGE fan of his novels. It’s true of how I feel, although of course, if you take that thinking too far you can associate negative vibes with an item that was used by a bad person, made by a bad person, etc.

    1. Luanne, I’m delighted you enjoyed the poem. Like you, I was a true fan of D.H. Lawrence’s novels before I came to his poetry.
      I agree about the negative vibes side of the coin but I think the ‘forgotten men’ in this particular poem shifts the emphasis from them somewhat.

      1. I think that the way he wrote the poem you only think of the positive. In fact, I only thought of it because a writer friend told me she won’t have antiques in the house because they might bring bad vibes in. Sigh.

  3. Because I have alot of collectibles it’s hard for me to choose which one is still being used…I have an old coffee mill that grinds coffee beans and deposit the grounds into a little drawer. I use it every now and then and love the aroma that comes from the ground also gives my arm a workout. I also have a pot-belly wood burning stove originally came from Sears & Roebuck..we gave it to our grandson who uses it in his shed for heat and loves it…he does carpentry and welding so it serves the intended purpose. Another item that comes to mind is the glass hurricaine lamps that use oil in the bottom and has a wick that you must trim for an even burn and adjust it to the proper light level. The glass globe or chimney must be kept nice and clean as it does get sooty if the flame is not burning correctly..this has lit our home on many a lightless night. I think of all those who came up with these inventions and they are still being used today.

  4. Post-industrial buildings and landscapes – your copper mines are a good example Jean. I grew up in the industrialised Midlands which were once the heartbeat of England. Much has now gone but plenty of reminders remain where many thousands of people grafted hard to put bread on the table. They were hard times no matter how people like to reinvent them as the good old days.

    1. Roy, I couldn’t agree more about those representations. I’d like to hear what D.H. Lawrence’s ‘forgotten men’ had to say about life back in his time.

  5. Things men have made: Ale. I’m making some now. It’s a strong ale, and the intent of such as that is to derive the benefits of its strength. Kick off your shoes, put your car keys on the coffee table (as you won’t need them for a while), get join in with lyrics, poems, and dance. Rock on chilluns, rock on!

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