DH Lawrence in Italy is today’s writing exercise

This is my paragraph, written this morning:

In the summer dusk the dark trees of the Heath stand against the brunt of the wind of this racing sky. They are very black and verdant, and their darkness seems to belong to a colder place, to Hades. They are the borders of this world. They seem to be standing on the far banks of death and elsewhere. They rustle, they moan like soft sombre choirs. They are grand neighbourhood doorways that I cannot explore.

This is DH Lawrence’s original paragraph, from Twilight in Italy:

In the autumn the little rosy cyclamens blossom in the shade of this west side of the lake. They are very cold and fragrant, and their scent seems to belong to Greece, to the Bacchae. They are real flowers of the past. They seem to be blossoming in the landscape of Phaedra and Helen. They bend down, they brood like little chill fires. They are little living myths that I cannot understand.

To do this sort of practice is to dine on failure. Not only can Lawrence not be matched because he’s, you know, a genius, one is also hamstrung by the requirement to produce content to a set form. The form (the types of sentences, their verbs, the repetitions, shifts between abstract and concrete) makes room and confines at the same time. Yet practice is practice. One studies and then tries out, noticing and copying, slowly building new dark doorways in the mind.

What do you think?

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