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Featured Poem: Humming-Bird by D.H. Lawrence

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 18th May 2015

This week's Featured Poem has recently been read in one of our shared reading groups in drug and alcohol rehabilitation settings, alongside the story The Sound Machine by Roald Dahl. Our project worker in the group explains how both texts have opened up ideas about perspective and how well we can really know a thing from an outside glance:

"The group really enjoyed the poem – indeed one man started to laugh in excitement of having his eyes opened a little into the possibility of other worlds and the possibility of there being other ways of looking at things. I think the poem has both degrees of humour and terror in it, but I have now gone on to use it a few more times and have found that whether group members like it or not, they do talk a lot about the value of thinking about how something else might look to others."

Why not take some time out of your Monday morning to look at things from a different angle?


I can imagine, in some otherworld
Primeval-dumb, far back
In that most awful stillness, that only gasped and hummed,
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.

Before anything had a soul,
While life was a heave of Matter, half inanimate,
This little bit chipped off in brilliance
And went whizzing through the slow, vast, succulent stems.

I believe there were no flowers, then,
In the world where the humming-bird flashed ahead of creation.
I believe he pierced the slow vegetable veins with his long beak.

Probably he was big
As mosses, and little lizards, they say were once big.
Probably he was a jabbing, terrifying monster.
We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of Time,
Luckily for us.

D.H. Lawrence

As an extra treat, hear Humming-Bird being read by Nellibobs a.k.a Brian Nellist. If you'd like more of Nellibobs in person, he'll be leading a course on T.S. Eliot: Fifty Years On at Calderstones Mansion House in Liverpool this June. This three-part course will explore some of Eliot's classic works, including The Waste Land and The Four Quartets. For more details, see The Reader Organisation's website:

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