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Examine Lawrence’s use of the theme of journeying in his later poetry.

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Introduction

Examine Lawrence's use of the theme of journeying in his later poetry. By this time, Lawrence was in the last year of his life. He was expecting to die, but he had no religious relief in an afterlife - he severely doubted the Catholic religion in which he was brought up. The poems from Last Poems are his way of reassuring himself that death is simply another stage in the journey through life. He was fascinated by the Ancient culture, especially the Greeks, and transformed their mythology and beliefs into his own 'religion' and belief in an afterlife. In "The Ship of Death" Lawrence is focusing on the Egyptian idea of the dead travelling by a "ship of death" to their next life. The people journeyed on and had an afterlife. In ancient Egypt, bodies were buried with goods that they expected to take with them on their journey: "with food, with little ...read more.

Middle

The ship sails on "the dark and endless ocean of the end", implying that he sees the journey as an ongoing one, into "eternity". However, there is a paradox in the poem: towards the end, the ship sails "out of eternity" and "out of oblivion". Perhaps Lawrence feels that, for those whose faith is strong enough to withstand the "dark flood", "the grim frost" and the "painful death" there is an afterlife, but for those whose faith is weak, "It is the end, it is oblivion". It has parallels with the Biblical account of Noah's Ark, in which an ark is prepared by a man with strong faith, so that when the flood comes, he survives, but the other non-believer and sinful people are doomed. D.H Lawrence uses the same idea: that self-preparation is essential, "O build your ship of death, for you will need it". ...read more.

Conclusion

In other words, here on earth. In "The Ship of Death", the journey is a terrifying experience, but at the end of it, one can come out of "oblivion and find "peace". However, later on, Lawrence begins to believe in a more natural type of journey, as he begins to look at the ancient Greeks' way of life. The Greeks symbolise adventure and this is how Lawrence begins to view the journey of death. He retains the image of the 'ship' and the 'journey' throughout most of these poems, because the Greeks' voyages provide him with a symbol for the journey of death. For example, in the poem "The Argonauts", Lawrence envisages them as having lived on: "They are not dead!" The Argonauts, led by Jason, are still on their never-ending journey (following on from the theme of eternity in "The Ship of Death"), but for them, the voyage is a glorious one: "Odysseus.....steers" the ship - he is a Greek hero. . ...read more.

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