On golden pom-poms

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“Richard turned and they plunged into the wild grass and strange bushes, following the stream. By the stream the mimosa was all gold, great gold bushes full of spring fire rising over your head, and the scent of the Australian spring, and the most ethereal of all golden bloom, the plumy, many-balled wattle, and the utter loneliness, the manlessness, the untouched blue sky overhead, the gaunt, lightless gum-trees rearing a little way off, and sound of strange birds, vivid tones of strange, brilliant birds that flit round. Save for that, and for some weird frog-like sound, indescribable, the age-unbroken silence of the Australian bush.

[…]

At home, with all the house full of blossom, the fluffy gold wattle-bloom, they sat at tea in the pleasant room, the bright fire burning, eating boiled eggs and toast. And they looked at one another — and Richard uttered the unspoken thought:

“Do you wish you were staying?”

“I— I,” stammered Harriet, “if I had THREE lives, I’d wish to stay. It’s the loveliest thing I’ve EVER known.”

“I know,” he answered, laughing. “If one could live a hundred years. But since one has only a short time —.”

They were both silent. The flowers there in the room were like angel-presences, something out of heaven. The bush! The wonderful Australia.”

~ From Kangaroo by D H Lawrence

Image: An unusual wattle I saw today at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Melbourne. There are around 1,000 varieties of wattle (acacia or mimosa) in Australia; the Golden Wattle (acacia pycnantha) is the floral emblem of Australia.

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11 thoughts on “On golden pom-poms

  1. Lovely bit of prose, so evocative of a particular time and place. Lawrence was such a controversial character, what with all the uproar over “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. It seems pretty tame now.

    I haven’t read “Kangaroo” but I will put it on my list now. Apparently, Lawrence wrote the novel in Sydney and revised it in New Mexico.

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    • Spot on about it being evocative of a certain time and place. I read it a long time ago and I think I remember it felt dated and overwrought, but he does really get the beauty and strangeness and the quality of repelling civilisation of the Australian bush.

      Speaking of Lady Chatterley, I saw a film of it on TV recently and was blown away. I’d love to share the link with you but it only works within Australia. It was a French movie, starring an actress called Marina Hands and made by a female director, Pascale Ferran. It transformed the love of Connie and Mellors into a sublime story of innocence and beauty, and a total absence of puritanical morality. Incredibly candid about the act of love including shots of an erect penis. Best of all, no comeuppance for the woman. The most tender, touching film about what human love could be.

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      • I’ve watched the film now and enjoyed it very much, although there is an underlying sadness to it as well. The eroticism definitely benefits from the perspective of the director, I think–the tenderness and vulnerability are there from the first moment. Lawrence’s major themes are given due attention, too–the lack of vitality in the ruling class, closed off from nature and their own essential nature; the energy that resides in the “common man” in spite of the lack of opportunities that box him in. I’m thinking of the scene where the miners emerge from the mine, their faces black with coal dust and the blue eyes of one man looking intensely alive and angry.

        I read the book many years ago and realize now that I wasn’t really capable of understanding the nuances at that time. Thanks again for your recommendation.

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      • That’s a great summary of Lawrence’s themes. They’re enduring ones, aren’t they? One could substitute the word “the wealthy” for “ruling class” and “the poor” for the “common man” and it would work today. Or the words “technological class”, “Western world”, “refugees” etc. When human beings get comfortable/wealthy/ostensibly insulated from risk, anaesthetisation sets in.

        What was the sadness you felt? I didn’t get that so much. Because she couldn’t share the kind of love she had with Parkin with her husband?

        What about the scene when he places the baby chick in her hands? Oh. My. My heart turned over with love for her and for him. And the scene with the flowers. Has tenderness ever been portrayed like this?

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