Bare Almond Trees

A Poem by D. H. Lawrence


Today’s selection from the poetry books of Black Sparrow Books and David R. Godine, Publisher, is from D. H. Lawrence’s Birds, Beasts and Flowers, published in 2007.




Bare Almond Trees


Wet almond trees, in the rain,

Like iron sticking grimly out of earth;

Black almond trunks, in the rain,

Like iron implements twisted, hideous, out of the earth,

Out of the deep, soft fledge of Sicilian winter-green,

Earth-grass uneatable,

Almond trunks curving blackly, iron-dark, climbing the slopes.

Almond tree, beneath the terrace rail,

Black, rusted, iron trunk,

You have welded your thin stems finer,

Like steel, like sensitive steel in the air,

Grey, lavender, sensitive steel, curving thinly and brittly up

            in a parabola.

What are you doing in the December rain?

Have you a strange electric sensitiveness in your steel tips?

Do you feel the air for electric influences

Like some strange magnetic apparatus?

Do you take in messages, in some strange code,

From heaven’s wolfish, wandering electricity, that prowls so

            constantly round Etna?

Do you take the whisper of sulphur from the air?

Do you hear the chemical accents of the Sun?

Do you telephone the roar of the waters-over-the-earth?

And from all this, do you make calculations?

Sicily, December’s Sicily in a mass of rain

With iron branching blackly, rusted like old, twisted implements

And brandishing and stooping over earth’s wintry fledge, climbing

            the slopes

Of uneatable soft green!


D.H. Lawrence, “Bare Almond Trees” from Birds, Beasts and Flowers. Copyright © (1920) by Jonathan Cape and Harrison Smith, Inc. Copyright © (1957) renewed by Frieda Lawrence Ravagli. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc., and with the permission of Black Sparrow Books and David R. Godine, Publisher,