21 pages 42 minutes read

D. H. Lawrence

Whales Weep Not!

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1932

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Poem Analysis

Analysis: “Whales Weep Not!”

D. H. Lawrence opens his poem with an aphorism, or pithy common saying, from a mysterious “they” (Line 1). The poet does not expound on who these people are—perhaps, given Lawrence’s broader poetic philosophy, he’s referencing modern thinkers or writers (see Themes essay “Ancient Sensibility Versus Modern Rationality”). What is clear is that “they,” unlike Lawrence, consider the sea to be “cold” (Line 1). The poet knows better. He does not dispute the coldness of the water, but counters with a nuance of their observation: The sea may be cold, but it contains not only the hottest blood of all, but also the “wildest” and “most urgent” (Line 2).

Lawrence dramatically delays revealing whom this blood belongs to until Stanza 2. The ocean’s whales, he contends, are hot-blooded, and that hot blood propels them forward in constant, passionate motion. Lawrence introduces here the metaphorical, highly sexual language which permeates the rest of the poem. The whales “urge” on and on—a verbal form of the adjective describing their blood in Stanza 1, “urgent”—and Lawrence’s use of sonic repetition here mimics the repetitive, thrusting nature of the sex act. The whales (phallic symbols themselves) repeatedly dive beneath the rounded form of the “icebergs,” which evoke the mons pubis of human women.