The world of WORK, as a Poet would like it to be.
There is no point in work
unless it absorbs you
like an absorbing game.
If it doesn’t absorb you
if it’s never any fun,
don’t do it.
When a man goes out to work
he is alive like a tree in spring,
he is living, not merely working.
When the hindus weave thin wool into long, long lengths of stuff
with their thin dark hands and their wide dark eyes and their still souls absorbed
they are like slender trees putting forth leaves, a long white web of living leaf,
the tissue they weave,
and they clothe themselves in white as a tree clothes itself in its own foliage,
As with cloth, so with houses, ships, shoes, wagons or cups or loaves.
Men might put them forth as a snail its shell, as a bird that leans its breast against its nest, to make it round,
As the turnip models its round root, as the bush makes its own flowers and gooseberries, putting them forth, not manufacturing them,
And cities might be as once they were, bowers grown out from the busy bodies of people’
And so it will be again, men will smash the machines.
At last, for the sake of clothing himself in his own leaf-like cloth tissued from his life,
and dwelling in his own bowery house, like a beaver’s nibbled mansion
And drinking from cups that came off his fingers like flowers off their five-fold stem,
he will cancel the machines we have got.
D H Lawrence 1885-1930
anthologised in ‘A Book of Comfort‘ by Elizabeth Goudge, Fontana 1968
It is curious that you will not find this poem of Lawrence’s on the internet – at least I couldn’t. Not his best, certainly, but with some wonderful images: anyone who has drunk tea from an earthenware cup at an Indian railway station for it then to be smashed will understand ‘cups that came off his fingers’. The poem is obviously inspired by Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) and his spinning, which this photograph from the late 1920s depicts on Wikpedia.