Poem: Critical Analysis of The Poem Bat by D.H. Lawrence
Summary of The Poem Bat by D.H. Lawrence
As a lyric and an ode, the poem is a description of the attitude of the poet to the natural things around him including the swallow and the bat. The poet provides a vivid account of the activities of the birds on a particular night. In doing so, he provides a background account of the settings of the events.
About The Poem
D.H. Lawrence wrote the poem at a time when English poetry was transiting from the romantic poetry of the nineteenth century to the modernist period which was the twentieth century. By then, the numerous effects of industrialization manifesting in a very subtle manner in the poetry of G.M. Hopkins, had become an intrinsic part of the poetry of D.H. Lawrence. Poetry, especially the poems of the modernist poets, was taking on a more open, conversational and realistically descriptive style. At the same time, Europe was going through a myriad of chaotic activities. Internal disparities and wars were leading to increased divisions amongst European nations. The increase in travel and exploration led to a more stratified society with more classes, class mobility and class ambiguity. The nineteenth-century focus on romantic poetry still left the remnants of its effects in the poetry of the next century as issues on nature were always being treated. All the while, the modernist tendencies of most of the writers led them to contrast nature with the gloomy realities that were direct consequences of industrialization. In ‘Bats’, Lawrence creates a poem that unifies both backgrounds by creating a poem about something in nature and describing his dislike for it in a modernist style. ‘Bat’ was published in an anthology entitled Birds, Beasts and Flowers. It was written during the period of Lawrence’s creative career where he focused his attention on animals, using them to examine human consciousness and sensibility.
Plot Account of The Poem Bat by D.H. Lawrence
The Poem Bat
At evening, sitting on this terrace,
When the sun from the west, beyond Pisa, beyond the mountains of Carrara
Departs, and the world is taken by surprise ...
When the tired flower of Florence is in gloom beneath the glowing
Brown hills surrounding ...
When under the arches of the Ponte Vecchio
A green light enters against stream, flush from the west,
Against the current of obscure Arno ...
Look up, and you see things flying
Between the day and the night;
Swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together.
A circle swoop, and a quick parabola under the bridge arches
Where light pushes through;
A sudden turning upon itself of a thing in the air.
A dip to the water.
And you think:
"The swallows are flying so late!"
Dark air-life looping
Yet missing the pure loop ...
A twitch, a twitter, an elastic shudder in flight
And serrated wings against the sky,
Like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light,
And falling back.
The swallows are gone.
At a wavering instant the swallows gave way to bats
By the Ponte Vecchio ...
Bats, and an uneasy creeping in one's scalp
As the bats swoop overhead!
Black piper on an infinitesimal pipe.
Little lumps that fly in air and have voices indefinite, wildly vindictive;
Wings like bits of umbrella.
Creatures that hang themselves up like an old rag, to sleep;
And disgustingly upside down.
Hanging upside down like rows of disgusting old rags
And grinning in their sleep.
In China the bat is symbol for happiness.
Not for me!
Structure of the poem Bat
The poem is an ode and a lyric.
It has I fourteen stanzas which oscillate between a I one-line stanza (stanzas one and eight) two line stanzas (stanza three, seven and fourteen) and three-line stanza (stanza nine).
Language of the PoemThe poem is written in simple language with the ideas flowing from line to line and stanza to stanza as a result of the continuous run on-lines.
Setting of The Poem Bat by D.H. Lawrence
The setting is a terrace of a house in Italy, where the poetic persona observes the animals as they begin the process of settling in for the night. He appears to be a nature-lover from his beautiful description of the hues and aesthetics that form as the day draws to a close, as well as his close examination of the birds flying in the night sky.Apart from the fact that ‘Bat’ contains several Italian words, it has been extracted from the poetry collection, Birds, Beasts and Flowers, which is an anthology of poems that Lawrence wrote during a part of his tour of Europe when he stayed at San Cervasio, a city close to Florence, in Italy. The poem appears under the heading ‘Creatures’. Although the poetic focus is on bats, it does not immediately begin its description of bats at the beginning of the poem. The poetic persona mentions places and water bodies like Pisa, Carrara, Florence, Ponte Vecchio and Amo in the poem. Pisa is mentioned in line 2 of the poem, and it refers to a city in the Tuscany region of Central Italy. This city lies close to the Arno which is a large river. It is one of the most important rivers in Central Italy. The Amo is mentioned in line 8 of the poem. Carrara is another city that is also mentioned in the poem, precisely in line 2. It is located in the Tuscany region of Central Italy, which is West-Northwest of Florence. Florence is mentioned in line 4 of the poem, and it is linked to a flower that is native to the region. It is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. In line 6, the name of another place that is mentioned is Ponte Vecchio, which is a bridge built with shops along it. It is located above the Amo River, which is also in Florence, Italy.Throughout the poem, the poetic persona is just an observer speaking out his thoughts to a listener. He focuses on the timelessness of nature, using the bat as the means of expressing his mind about nature. His vivid language and descriptions give him away as perhaps describing the unflattering chaos of the twentieth century in the similitude of an animal that he dislikes. Just like the bat represents an unwelcome animal in this beautiful and romantic scenery that is presented in the poem, so are the evils of industrialization also undesirable in the natural fields and woods that were part of Europe’s heritage.
Subject Matter of The Poem Bat by D.H. Lawrence
Line to line analysis of The Poem Bat
The Poem bat: Line 1-3
The Poem Bat: Lines 4-5
The Poem Bat:Lines 6-8
The Poem Bat: Lines 9-11
The Poem Bat: Lines 12-15
The Poem Bat: Lines 16-17
The Poem Bat: Line 18
The Poem Bat: Lines 19-24
The Poem Bat: Lines 25-27
The Poem Bat: Lines 28-30
The Poem Bat: Lines 31-33
The Poem Bat: Lines 34-36
Line 37 of The Poem Bat
Line 38 of The Poem Bat
Lines 39-40 of The Poem Bat
Lines 41-43 of The Poem Bat
Line 44 of The Poem Bat
Summary and Explanation of All Stanzas of The Poem Bat
Stanzas One and Two of The Poem Bat
Stanza Three of The Poem Bat
Stanza Four of The Poem Bat
Stanza five of The Poem Bat
Stanza Six of The Poem Bat
Stanza Seven of The Poem Bat
Stanza Eight of The Poem Bat
Stanza Ten of The Poem Bat
Stanza Eleven of The Poem Bat
Stanza Twelve of The Poem Bat
Stanza Thirteen of The Poem Bat
Stanza Fourteen of The Poem Bat
SYNOPSIS OF THE POEM "BAT"
Themes of The Poem Bat
The Theme of Beauty of Nature
Nature and Its Beauty
A careful reading of the lines of Bat, (especially the ones that speak of the flight of the swallows) will show you this one unmistakable theme. It is that nature, undisturbed, can be truly beautiful.This beauty of nature is portrayed through a careful selection of words. It is further reinforced by the poet’s deliberate use of rhythm in the relevant lines. Furthermore, the powerful evocation of nature imagery is for a purpose. It is meant to enable us to see nature in a positive way. The lines below are proof of how diction, imagery and rhythm are combined to show the beauty of nature in its primitive state.A circle swoop, and a quick parabola under the bridge arches Where light pushes through;A sudden turning upon itself of a thing in the air.A dip to the water.Apart from rhythm, diction and imagery, the poet also uses the bird (swallow), the sunset, the mountains (of Carrara) and the river (Arno) as symbols of nature.
The beauty in nature
One idea that permeates through this poem is the beauty in nature, and this shows the Romantic influence on the poetry of D.H. Lawrence. The poetic persona takes his time to describe the environment around him. The use of words in describing the setting sun and the emerging moon at evening time is so vivid and poignant. The poetic persona describes how he watches the setting of the sun, above the city of Pisa. In this first stanza, where this place is mentioned, he also describes the way the sun sets 'beyond the mountains of Carrara’ (line 2). The setting of the sun is presented using adjectives that make the place being described, more believable.
Florence is the next place that the poetic persona talks about in Stanza 2. Here, he makes mention of the ‘flowers in (line 4) and ‘brown hills’ in (line 5) that surround it. Through this image description of Florence, the poetic persona invites the reader to admire the immense beauty to be found in this beautiful Italian landscape. The poetic persona also talks about the Ponte Vecchio which is a bridge over the River Amo. The bridge’s beautiful arches are mentioned to ignite the imagination of the reader. In the lines that follow, the poetic persona begins to play with colours. In line 7, he makes the following statement: ‘a green light enters against stream, flush from the west’. The image of this stream, with different shades of green, is projected into the minds of the reader. The Amo, a little known river, is another spectacle of nature that is used to describe the beauty inherent in it. Besides, the poetic persona also talks about day and night, about dusk, about the shades the firmament takes when the sun is setting. All these are visual imagery of landscape, the sea and the sky. The reference made to various Italian cities and landmarks, such as the mountains of Carrara, the Ponte Vecchio bridge and the Amo River, allow the reader to appreciate the beauty and dignity of Italy. The ‘brown hills’ that surround Florence allow the poetic persona to create a mental picture of a charming city rendered even more colourful by the light of the setting sun. The poet persona states that ‘the tired flower of Florence is in gloom/beneath the glowing... ’This line creates a mental picture of a delicate and beautiful city which is bathed in the light of the setting sun. It also creates a calming effect because the reader is made aware of the act that the day is drawing to a close, towards the time that both man and nature rests. Therefore, the detailed descriptions of the landscape and the lights cast by the setting sun enable the reader to see through the poet persona s eyes and appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature.
The links between nature and technology, science, art, design and many other fields can be seen in the way the poetic persona describes some of the elements of nature. This is one of the beauties of nature - its links to all aspects of man’s endeavours. For example, the bat’s wings are described' its of umbrella’ in line 37. This statement could infer that the design of the umbrella might have been borm out of man’s observation of this mammal. The poet also compares the bird’s swoop with that of a quick parabola’ in line 12 linking the curve at which the bird flies with the parabolic curve in Mathematics.Also, even though the poetic persona dislikes bats, he still takes his time to describe the distinctive features of the bat as well as the swallow. This shows that nature might hot always be admired for all its features by people but its features will not go unappreciated, although disliked. Furthermore, the poetic persona’s dislike of the bat does not stop other people from other cultural backgrounds from appreciating its beauty. Their admiration for it is so much that they equate it with happiness.
The Theme of The Relationship Between Humans and Nature
The Theme of Natural Grace of Birds in Flight
Theme of Cultural Differences
The Theme of Irrational Prejudice
Theme of Nostalgia
The Theme of Right to Individual Preference
The Theme of Realties of Human Consciousness
Hatred for Bats Theme
Life is full of deceptive self-assertions Theme
Nature as Object of Recreation Theme
Theme of disappointment or reversal
POETIC DEVICES FROM THE POEM BAT
The poet uses many symbols in this work. The poem is a modernist poem with a flavour of the romantic tradition. Hence, Lawrence makes use of nature and creatures from nature as symbols. The bat is a significant symbol used in the poem. His description of bats, for instance, comes with a scathing style and acidity that can only be termed modernist. In using ‘bat’, as a symbol, the poet was indirectly creating a logo of his pessimistic view of Europe at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Symbols can change depending on the setting in which the symbols are used. In some places, the colour black signifies death or mourning while in some other cultures, white signifies peace. In this poem, the poetic persona refers to Chinese culture and what the bat symbolizes to the Chinese. In China, the ‘bat’ symbolizes ‘happiness’, but the poetic persona reiterates in the last stanza of the poem that the bat does not symbolize such to him. One can, therefore, infer from the poetic persona's use of words and phrases like‘wildly vindictive’ (line 36) ‘disgusting’ (line 40) and ‘uneasy creeping in one’s scalp’ (line 31) while describing the bat that it symbolizes something irritating and sinister to him. Within the context of this poem, the appearance of the , bats is ominous, a symbol of something terrible and destructive that had happened, that was happening and could still occur in Europe. It also symbolizes the untoward effects of industrialization. The poem was written in 1923, five years after the catastrophic First World War, during which more than 37 million people died. Most of the deaths were caused by the development and production of very deadly armaments, which highlighted the increasing dependence on technology, a significant feature of industrialization.
At the beginning of the poem, the poet describes places, bridges, flowers, streams and rivers. The poetic persona’s description of nature shows a world of serenity and bliss that was nineteenth-centmy Europe before the era of industrialization. In lines 9 and 10, the poetic persona makes the following statement:, ‘Look up, and you see things flying/between the day and the night’. The ‘day’ represents the nineteenth while the twentieth century is represented by the ‘night’. The poetic persona’s description of bats in a very disgusting manner conveys his unhappiness at the debilitating effects of industrialization on the environment and on the people of Europe during this period. The description, ‘little lumps that fly in air...* in line 36 of the poem, could refer to the black, thick lumps of smoke created in the air by the numerous factories that were springing up throughout Europe. This is because bats are black and the description of them as lumps in the air makes this analysis and inference, plausible.
The way the unwelcome bat enters and disrupts the poetic persona’s idyllic and romantic description of nature is a symbolic representation of how industrialization came and disrupted the bliss that nature embodied.
Use of punctuation marks as poetic device
Structure of The Poem Bat by D.H. Lawrence
‘Bat’ by D.H. Lawrence is a 45-line poem with no exact stanzaic structure. The stanzas, if one is to call them stanzas in the strict sense of the word, are not entirely made of the same number of lines. In someplaces, just one word or line makes up a stanza. However, if one is to think of these clusters as stanzas then the poem is made up of 18 stanzas. The first stanza contains three lines. The second stanza contains two lines while the third stanza has three lines. The fourth stanza is made up of three lines while the fifth stanza contains four lines. The sixth stanza consists of two lines while the seventh stanza contains one line. The eighth stanza contains six lines; the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth stanzas contains three lines each. The thirteenth and the fourteenth stanzas contain one line, the fifteenth stanza contains two lines, the sixteenth stanza contains three lines, the seventeenth and eighteenth stanzas contain one line each. Lines 18, 26, 34, 38 and 43 have only one word each, and they are all names of birds. Line 18 mentions ‘swallows’ while the other lines seem to reply with the word ‘bats!’. Line 34 mentions the word bat in its Italian version, ‘pipistrello’. The one line stanzas are known as monostich. A whole poem can consist of just one line. In poetry, a single line of poetry can be called a stich. Thus, a mono means ‘one’ while a stitch simply means ‘line’, therefore, monostitch means ‘one-line’.
The structure of this poem has an enjambment form. Thus, the thoughts in one line flow into the next line. The use of this device makes the poem to also sound like a conversation. Within the poem, the poetic persona seems to be speaking to a listener. This style of artistic creativity helps the reader relate more with the contents of the poem because he imagines himself as the person that is being addressed. Besides, the first three stanzas of the poem and lines 20 and 29 end with an ellipsis. This is very important in the understanding of this structure because the use of ellipses implies that there are omissions in the poem or vast descriptions left unsaid. The poem is also written in free verse, probably to allow the poet to fully express his abhorrence of the bats.
The poem is written in simple prose-like form. It employs ellipsis to show that the poem is a personal emotional opinion of the poet. Language: Lawrence used violent words or expression to express his hatred for bats. Words like ‘’flying madly,’’ ‘’voices indefinite, ’’wildly vindictive,’’ ‘’old rags,’’ ‘’disgusting,’’ ‘’Black Piper.’’ The use of ‘’black’’ here connotes ‘’devil’’ or ‘’evil.’’ ‘’Disgusting’’ means something bad, unfair, inappropriate that you feel annoyed and angry.
The poet makes use of harsh and disdainful tone that reveals his strong hatred for bat.
The mood of the poem is initially reflective and thoughtful. However, from line 26, the mood becomes forceful, as the poetic persona makes no effort to hide his disgust.
Figures of Speech
MetaphorDarl Life, ⦁ secreted wings against the sky - a wave rings instant the swallows gives way.. Changing guard ⦁ Black piper on an infinitesimal pipe little lumps ⦁ voices indefinite
The Poetic devices used in the poem bat by d.h. lawrence are Repetition, Symbolism, Enjambment, Personification, Alliteration, Rhetorical questions, Antithesis, Imagery. And many more