BIRDS, BEASTS AND THE THIRD THING by D. H. Lawrence

BIRDS, BEASTS AND THE THIRD THING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

One's first reaction on reading these selections is that Lawrence's plain poems are well suited to a presentation for children. The Provensens' illustrations are charming, done in mellow umber, brick, and earth tones and based on the time and place of Lawrence's youth, and they lend a charming cast to the poems. However, they have almost nothing to do with the sense or sensibility of the words. Donald Hall's introduction speaks of Lawrence's ""abandon,"" ""explosions of feeling,"" and ""sense of immanence,"" but the prim illustrations, which feature proper boys in tie and collar, disregard any such wild elements. To a ""Song"" sung by someone high in a cherry tree about an unknown teasing ""her"" laughing and singing below, running off with ""wind-snatched hair,"" the Provensens line up three little girls in a docile row beside the tree, which has a ladder propped against it for the little-boy singer's convenience. For ""Roses,"" blooming in ""coloured fulness/ Out of sheer desire to be splendid, and more splendid,"" we have one dim rose in a vase, rendered like a Victorian print. The ordered, stylized forms for ""Green"" eyes, "". . . clear like flowers undone/ For the first time. . . ,"" are sheer misinterpretation, deliberate or naive. And one can only wonder what Baskin might do with ""The Mosquito Knows"" ("". . . he only takes his bellyful,/ he doesn't put my blood in the bank""), or with ""Humming Bird,"" which is set here, like ""Relativity"" (about impulsive atoms), in a domesticated old-time classroom. In the end, pleasing as it may be to the eye, the package may be more a hindrance than a help in reading Lawrence.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 1982
Publisher: Viking