chapter  I
Self-destroying
Pages 2

Among the few poems he mentions as having been specially meaning­ ful are ‘Wordsworth’s Ode to Immortality’ [«£] and the Odes of Keats. One would have known however, without this testimony, that the English Romantics had made a deep impression on him; for the extraordinary abundance in his own writing of images of dissolution-swooning, fading, lapsing out, dissolving, decomposing-in itself provides sufficient proof that he had their poetry in his bones. Like the Romantics Lawrence is endlessly concerned with what Keats had called ‘self-destroying’*— the process of dying into being, the lapsing of consciousness which is yet the discovery of a deeper consciousness, the dissolution of the hard, intact, ready-defined ego:

You’ve got to lapse out before you can know what sensual reality is, lapse into unknowingness,

* The expression occurs in Edymion, Book I (I discuss the passage later). Wordsworth uses the word too at the end of the Book VII of The Prelude, and in a context concerned with a process of diffusion, or inter­ fusion-that is, a process analogous to that of dissolution:

The Spirit of Nature was upon me here; The Soul of Beauty and enduring life Was present as a habit, and diffused, Through meagre lines and colours, and the press Of self-destroying, transitory things Composure and ennobling Harmony. (1805: VII, 735-40)

and give up your volition. You’ve got to do it. You’ve got to learn not-to-be, before you can come into being.