Home  »  Amores: Poems  »  45. The Hands of the Betrothed

D.H. Lawrence (1885–1930). Amores. 1916.

45. The Hands of the Betrothed

HER tawny eyes are onyx of thoughtlessness,

Hardened they are like gems in ancient modesty;

Yea, and her mouth’s prudent and crude caress

Means even less than her many words to me.

Though her kiss betrays me also this, this only

Consolation, that in her lips her blood at climax clips

Two wild, dumb paws in anguish on the lonely

Fruit of my heart, ere down, rebuked, it slips.

I know from her hardened lips that still her heart is

Hungry for me, yet if I put my hand in her breast

She puts me away, like a saleswoman whose mart is

Endangered by the pilferer on his quest.

But her hands are still the woman, the large, strong hands

Heavier than mine, yet like leverets caught in steel

When I hold them; my still soul understands

Their dumb confession of what her sort must feel.

For never her hands come nigh me but they lift

Like heavy birds from the morning stubble, to settle

Upon me like sleeping birds, like birds that shift

Uneasily in their sleep, disturbing my mettle.

How caressingly she lays her hand on my knee,

How strangely she tries to disown it, as it sinks

In my flesh and bone and forages into me,

How it stirs like a subtle stoat, whatever she thinks!

And often I see her clench her fingers tight

And thrust her fists suppressed in the folds of her skirt;

And sometimes, how she grasps her arms with her bright

Big hands, as if surely her arms did hurt.

And I have seen her stand all unaware

Pressing her spread hands over her breasts, as she

Would crush their mounds on her heart, to kill in there

The pain that is her simple ache for me.

Her strong hands take my part, the part of a man

To her; she crushes them into her bosom deep

Where I should lie, and with her own strong span

Closes her arms, that should fold me in sleep.

Ah, and she puts her hands upon the wall,

Presses them there, and kisses her bright hands,

Then lets her black hair loose, the darkness fall

About her from her maiden-folded bands.

And sits in her own dark night of her bitter hair

Dreaming—God knows of what, for to me she’s the same

Betrothed young lady who loves me, and takes care

Of her womanly virtue and of my good name.