21 pages 42 minutes read

D. H. Lawrence

Whales Weep Not!

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1932

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Literary Devices

Form and Meter

Like the works of William Wordsworth, Emily Dickenson, and Walt Whitman (an especially important influence), D. H. Lawrence wrote “Whales, Weep Not!” in free verse, an open form which does not adhere to any formal rhythm or metrical scheme. While some of Lawrence’s earlier poems did use more rigid forms, the poet was by and large a vocal proponent of this format. As he wrote in his essay on poetic theory, “The Poetry of the Present,” Lawrence believed,

We can get rid of the stereotyped movements and the old hackneyed associations of sound or sense. We can break down those artificial conduits and canals through which we do so love to force our utterance. We can break the stiff neck of habit.

Lawrence wanted his poetry to feel immediate and of the moment, like a spontaneous flow of thought. He was not overly concerned with perfection or with polishing a perfect piece of prose—or at least, he wanted to project an illusion of carefree spontaneity.

In “Whales Weep Not!”, the flexibility of free verse allows the poem to ebb and flow like the sea itself. Lawrence’s controlled use of punctuation and alternating line lengths both aurally and visually imitates the crashing and receding of waves on the shore.