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“Creep closer in, that I am more” –Is there a “theory of human relativity” in the Poetics of Look! We Have Come Through?

Elise Brault-Dreux

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1Lawrence’s collection of poems, Look! We Have Come Through! was published in 1917, so it was written years before Lawrence read about Einstein’s theory of relativity. But this series of poems, which depicts the dynamic, sometimes difficult, mutual dependence of two lovers, nevertheless evokes a form of “human relativity.” A few years later, in Fantasia of the Unconscious, Lawrence returns to this notion of “a theory of human relativity,” the necessity for which, he insists, exceeds that of Einstein’s own theory:

We have no law that governs us. For me there is only one law: I am I. And that isn’t a law, it’s just a remark. One is one, but one is not all alone. […] I am I, but also you are you, and we are in sad need of a theory of human relativity. We need it much more than the universe does.
F 25, my emphasis)

2If in his poems he does not satisfy this “sad need” for a “theory” as such, could his poems possibly be read as poetic incarnations of this very “human relativity” that, in fact, rests on what he will later famously name, in Women in Love, a dynamic “equilibrium” between two independent beings.

3Kumoki Hoshi, in “D. H. Lawrence in Victorian relativism: a ‘Theory of Human Relativity’ in Aaron’s Rod” (2011), distinguishes Einstein’s theory of relativity from a Victorian relativism that had paved the way for Einstein’s work and also shaped Lawrence’s personal philosophy (or metaphysics) of selfhood. Reading the work of the Victorians –Charles Darwin, T. H. Huxley, Herbert Spencer, William James and Ernst Haeckel– Lawrence espoused the notions that all beings are mutually related, of a “pluralistic monism,” as William James posits in The Meaning of Truth (1909) (Hoshi 44). When in Fantasia, he mentions the “universe,” after focussing on what he considers the more pressing need for a “theory of human relativity,” he shows his acquaintance with Einstein’s work and the reader may hear an echo of what he had already expressed in Look!, before he had read about Einstein’s theory. It is as though Lawrence here were somehow translating his own poetic metaphysics into the language of the scientific Zeitgeist:

I feel inclined to Relativity myself. I think there is no one absolute principle in the universe. I think everything is relative. But I also feel, most strongly, that in itself each individual living creature is absolute: in its own being. And that all things in the universe are just relative to the individual living creature. And that individual living creatures are relative to each other. (F 182)

  • 1 This is more or less what Bruce Clarke suggests, when he says that Einstein’s theory of relativity (...)

4Is he not here reiterating what he argues in his earlier poems about the virtues of communion in separateness?1

5In formal terms also, Look! is a whole, an absolute piece of literature, published independently. And yet, as the foreword makes clear, all the fragments are related:

These poems should not be considered separately, as so many single pieces. They are intended as an essential story, or history, or confession, unfolding one from the other in organic development, the whole revealing the intrinsic experience of a man during the crisis of manhood, when he marries and comes into himself. The period covered is, roughly, the sixth lustre of a man’s life. (CP 191)

6The overall structure is therefore relative and, in that sense, it is a formal translation of Lawrence’s conception of reality as a dynamic whole (Hayles 90). A year after the publication of the collection, he published “Poetry of the Present” which, he said, was to be read as a retrospective foreword to the poems. While he explains that poetry should be a flow freed from all constraints, he quite significantly remarks: “All that can be said, first and last, is that free verse is, or should be, direct utterance from the instant, whole man” (CP 184). Poetry is thus supposed to be emerging from an absolute being, whose existence is translated in some poems by a poetic “I” who, repeatedly, does in fact insist on “his” independent integrity.

7Looking at a selection of poems, all of which are clearly spoken by a male voice, and which all broach the issue of male/female relationships and the imperative need to avoid any fusion between two independent lovers, I will first analyse certain tropes, images and poetic devices that are drawn on by Lawrence to introduce his “I” as an absolute being, in the confrontation with his lover. I shall then go on to examine how this absolute individual actually defines himself, poetically, in the relation with his female lover: is this relativity incarnated in the very poetics? And to conclude, I will show that what surfaces in the poetic elaboration of this loving relativity, also seems to hinge on the I’s awareness of his own gradability –or innate relativity– when in contact with the absolute other.

An absolute “I”

  • 2 Exodus 3:14.

8How –by what poetic means– in these poems does the “I” insist on his absolute integrity, when he comes critically close to his lover? In “Song of a Man who is Loved,” after a first part where the “I” demonstrates how “Between her breasts is my home, between her breasts” (l.1 and l.13), the “I” finally declares: “I am that I am, and no more than that” (l.16). And with this Biblical phrase2 the “I” transiently incarnates the Absolute God. In other words, the poem’s intertextual relativity with the Bible is what, for the reader, yields meaning to the line as an indication of the “I’s” absolute nature. The idea of an absolute entity is thus conveyed by way of intertextual relativity. Moreover, the grammatical structure of the biblical proposition (a relative clause which opens with a fused relative “that”) further encompasses the “I” within a dense, absolute (and somewhat centripetal) structure.

9In another poem, “Manifesto,” the title immediately suggests that a more or less absolute stance will be taken in the poem. As in the aforementioned poem, the poem again starts with a demonstration of the relation between “I” and his female lover and, likewise, the final focus of the poem emphasises the “I’s” independence: “I know her now: or perhaps, I know my own limitation against her” (l.97). If “or perhaps” moderates the potentially absolute tone of the declaration, it actually confirms the limitation that is here mentioned: because he is limited “against her,” he cannot know her absolutely. Here the “I” again suggests that he understands his own absolute nature after having been in contact with the other. Soon after, he writes:

She touches me as if I were herself, her own.
She has not realised yet, that fearful thing, that I am the other,
She thinks we are all of one piece.
It is painfully untrue. (ll.115-8)

10In what comes close to dramatic irony, the “I” ambiguously complains about his lover’s lack of understanding of their independent, separate natures.

11But beside stating such absolute distinction directly, Lawrence also, and quite predicably, turns to metaphor. In “Rose of All the World,” which raises the issue of procreation as the ultimate purpose of sexual intercourse, he says:

I am here myself; as though this heave of effort
At starting other life, fulfilled my own:
Rose-leaves that whirl in colour round a
Of seed-specks kindled lately and softly blown
By all the blood of the rose bush into being. (“Rose of All the World,” ll.1-5)

12This somewhat hackneyed, or conventional, metaphor of the “core” stands for the absolute centre of the individual, through an image that prospectively seems to echo that of the “axle-pin” or “center-pin” in Fantasia, an image which stands for the absolute that was jeopardized by Einstein’s theory of relativity. The “core” is the centre of the being around which the rest revolves.

13The “I’s” positioning himself as a being absolutely distinct from the other again surfaces in “Both Sides of the Medal,” where love submits to the laws of physics. The “I” directly addresses the “you” in a conversational tone. The poem opens with “And,” suggesting the discursive cohesion with a pre-text, an argument that has been running on. The poem then unfolds like a logical demonstration:

And because you love me,
think you you do not hate me?
Ha, since you love me
to ecstasy
it follows you hate me to ecstasy.
Since you are confined in the orbit of me
do you not loathe the confinement?
Is not even the beauty and peace of an orbit
an intolerable prison to you,
as it is to everybody?
But we will learn to submit
Each of us to the balanced, eternal orbit
wherein we circle on our fate
strange conjunction (ll.1-36, my emphasis)

14The running metaphor of the lovers, eternally separated but drawn to each other by a sort of electro-magnetic attraction, along with the use of the term “balanced,” actually presents us with the root of Birkin’s idea of love, as he exposes it to Ursula in “Mino”:

“What I want is a strange conjunction with you –” he said quietly: “– not meeting and mingling; – and you are quite right: – but an equilibrium, a pure balance of two single beings; – as the stars balance each other.” (WL 148, my emphasis)

15The lovers are thus magnetically drawn to each other, yet never lose their integrity. But what especially catches our attention is the repeated use of the phrase “strange conjunction,” later echoed in “Manifesto” by “unutterable conjunction.” Lawrence thus deliberately subjects himself to the difficult task of trying to define this peculiar human mode of which would appear to lie beyond language (“unutterable”) and beyond apprehension (“strange”). And this unutterability actually seems to be precisely what draws his poetry further, to be the force driving his very philosophy of human relativity. And in that sense it confirms what Fiona Becket argues when she says: “It is Lawrence’s confrontation with the ‘untranslatable’ that paradoxically stimulates language into thought” (Becket 203).

Relativity inscribed in poetic language

16It is in terms of “dependence” that relativity is most openly dealt with. In the second part of “Wedlock,” the speaker says:

And oh, my little one, you whom I enfold,
How quaveringly I depend on you, to keep me alive
Like a flame on a wick! (ll.16-8)

17If dependence is first introduced by way of the possessive “my,” it is then clearly stated, and is repeated in part IV, with “How I depend on you utterly” (l.57). From “quavering” dependence, he moves on to a sort of absolute dependence (“utterly”): the “I” gives meaning to his absolute existence only if he is relatively connected with the female “you.”

18More interestingly, suggestion of human relativity is expressed poetically, notably through the metaphor of the “flame” which, in “Wedlock,” he delineates on the surface of the text:

How I love all of you! Do you feel me wrap you
Up with myself and my warmth,
like a flame round the wick?
And how I am not at all, except
a flame that mounts off you.
Where I touch you
, I flame into being; but is it me, or you?
Your breasts, your knees and feet! I feel that we
Are a bonfire of oneness,
me flame flung leaping round you,
You the core of the fire crept into me. (ll.3-15, my emphases)

  • 3Au sujet des équations métaphoriques, nous dirons encore ceci : tandis que la civilisation technic (...)
  • 4 “I conceive the man’s body as a kind of flame, like a candle flame forever upright and yet flowing; (...)

19According to Michael Wutz, “Lawrence invokes the flame as a figuration for a condition of corporeal being uncorrupted by intellection” (Wutz 91) –thus as a sort of absolute physical being. Here Lawrence first establishes a contiguous link between “myself” and “a flame,” with the explicit simile marked by “like.” Immediately after this, “flame” becomes a metaphor for the I’s physical being, which exists only relatively to the “you” – “I am not at all, except…” Substance is then turned into action when “flame” syntactically evolves into a resultative verb (“I flame into being”). “Being” then appears as the outcome of “flaming.” While “flame” remains morphologically unchanged (in the shift from substance to process), the “I,” first related to the “flame” in a simile, gradually incarnates the flame and is actively becoming the process that flames. This equation is later exposed in the co-location “me flame” (l.14), where the passive “me” suggests a completed incarnation –as though the “I” had been helplessly caught in the metaphorical process. The reader is therefore witness to the poetic elaboration of an intimate relation between things that are, by nature, absolutely different (Friedrich 307)3 –the flame and the man’s physical being.4 This poetic relativity (or organicity), where one stage of the metaphorical process depends on the previous one, thus outlines an absolute being (“the flame”), that actually does flame thanks to and for the other. Its flaming process exists relatively. And “I” exists –or is– when he “flames.” Interestingly enough, the “you” is the “core of the fire” –a metaphor the reader remembers from “Rose of all the world” as bringing in the notion of individual integrity. The “I” then declares his love: “I love all of you” (l.3). The use of “of” actually gives substance to the “you,” which becomes a sort of uncountable matter that has been put together in and by the phrase itself –in other words, that has been made whole, absolute, by the verbal expression of love itself, “I love all of you.”

20In this poem, the metaphor of the “flame,” and indeed language itself, thus give expression to the “unutterable conjunction.”

21But it can be argued that human relativity (which is at the core of the collection) finds expression in a system of echoes and “slightly modified repetitions” (WL 486) –a system which is quite specific to poetic style. Whether lexical, semantic, phonological, rhythmic or syntactic, the echo does not exist absolutely. It innately relies on its relation with the other, almost identical, repeated items. The examples are naturally too many to be listed and the exercise would be a pointless one. Nevertheless, again in the poem “Wedlock,” the echo between “wick” and “quick” establishes a link between the two lovers: he is “like a flame on a wick” (l.18) –thus equating “wick” with the female lover; three lines further in the poem, she is called “the quick of my being” (l.21), while later the speaker declares that “my life is fierce at its quick” (l.30). Just like “I” and “you” meet through the image of the “flame” wrapping around the “core,” “I” and “you” now meet and almost fuse and meaningful words fuse through the reverberation of the sound and meaning of the words shifting from one lover to the other. This poetic relativity, which we can read as a strange –not however unutterable– translation of human relativity, re-emerges in “Rose of all the World.” Here again, one may quote the entire poem as a chamber of poetic echoes that seek to demonstrate that sexual intercourse should not be experienced as a merely reproductive act. Lawrence thus opposes the image of the “seed” to that of the “rose,” the latter the emblem of the sexual act as a purposeless loving act. And while the seed suggests the absolute, the rose evokes transience and blossom:

To me it seems the seed is just left over
From the red rose-flower’s fiery transience;
Just orts and slarts; berries that smoulder in the bush
Which burnt
just now with marvellous immanence.
Blossom, my darling, blossom, be a rose
Of roses unchidden and purposeless; a rose
rosiness only, without an ulterior motive;
For me it is more than enough if the flower unclose. (ll.29-36, my emphases)

22The sexual relation does not lead the lovers to a state of absoluteness. On the contrary, the sexual act is necessarily transient. It is “just now” but will soon fade away. In “the red rose-flower’s fiery transience,” with the alliterations –that both evoke and mimic the flow– as well as the hyphenated compound (“rose-flower”) in an unexpected genitive case, Lawrence creates links, relations on the surface of the text. Alliterations, hyphens and genitive apostrophes are the surface marks of the constructive and constantly renewed relativity between words, between images and between lovers. The line actually illustrates, on the syntagmatic axis, what he later writes in “Poetry of the Present”:

There must be the rapid momentaneous association of things which meet and pass on the forever incalculable journey of creation: everything left in its own rapid, fluid relationship with the rest of things. (CP 183)

23And with this poetic relativity –both theorized and actually used in his poems– Lawrence conveys the positive transience of physical love metaphorised in the image of the “rose” which, a few lines later, becomes a substance: “rosiness.” “Rosiness” cancels the idea of a definite purpose (“for rosiness only”), but also of the physical limitations of the material incarnation of the rose. In other words, using “rosiness” eliminates the risks of defining the “rose” (physical love) too absolutely. This type of suffixation is later repeated in “Wedlock,” yielding a quite similar effect: “[…] I feel that we / Are a bonfire of oneness” (ll.13-14). The lovers do not merge in an absolute “one.” They rather go through a material experience –where “of” and the suffix “ness” give substance to this unlimited, unconstrained “one.”

24In fact, by thus moving the limits of language through compounding, suffixing and echoing, Lawrence somewhat comes close to the “strange, unutterable conjunction.”

25In all these poems, it is therefore quite difficult (and indeed pointless) to discriminate between those stanzas or lines in which Lawrence deals with positive absolute integrity and those where he promotes the importance of relativity, in so far as both are constantly interconnected: his argument is clearly that all beings, integral, absolute, are interconnected, and most importantly, interdependent, when love is involved. But what surfaces at times is the expression of a sort of innate relativity of each individual, a peculiar relativity which clearly depends on both the contact and distance between the lovers.

Distance, and innate relativity of “me”

26Bruce Clarke, in Energy Forms –Allegory and Science in the Era of Classical Thermodynamics, remarks that “Lawrence’s playful scientism implies that we are each of us a separate world in motion through deep space” (Clarke 211). The poems analysed here do actually rely on a sort of spatialization of the being of each of the lovers. In addition to the “orbit” image in “Both Sides of the Medal”, mentioned above, in “Wedlock” the male I declares:

And yet all the while you are you, you are not me.
And I am I, I am never you.
How awfully distinct and
far off from each other’s being we are!
Yet I am glad.
I am so glad there is always you
beyond my scope,
Something that stands over,
Something I shall never be (ll.73-9, my emphases)

  • 5 Among the several definitions Hoshi gives for relativity, there is “both the observer and the obser (...)

27“Far off” posits the “I” as the distant observing standpoint. And “beyond my scope” refers to the irreducible space between the lovers. Also an instrument for viewing, “scope” likewise brings in the notion of the place of the observer. The observer and the observed therefore move relative to each other,5 but never merge. Their respective “scopes” for action, though relative, never fuse.

28This distance between the lovers in “strange conjunction” is also intimated in “Manifesto,” though more subtly: “She stood before me like riches that were mine” (l.59). First introduced semantically (“before me”), the space between “I” and “she” intensifies: the simile, the relative clause, and the unreal as expressed by the preterit “were,” all suggest the distance between “she” (the observed) and “I” (the observer). More interestingly, later in the poem this same distance is intimately connected with the limitation of being, of the I’s being:

I suppose, ultimately she is all beyond me,
she is all
not-me ultimately.
It is that that one comes to.
A curious agony, and a relief, when I touch
that which is not me in any sense,
it wounds me to death with
my own not-being; definite, inviolable limitation,
and something beyond, quite beyond, if you understand what that means.
(ll.106-11, my emphases)

29The chiasmic structure “ultimately / she is all / she is all / ultimately,” combined with the repeated reference to “all,” somehow enfolds the “she” away from the “I.” The “she” is therefore defined here as the negation of “me” (hyphenated in a “not-me”) and in relation to the space which each being incarnates. The newly forged compound then evolves into “my own not-being,” three lines later, suggesting a paradoxical form of self-appropriation of the “not-me.” “Not-me” and “not-being” are not therefore, in any sense, the negations of “being” (which would mean death): they refer to a spatialisation of “being.” “Not-me” is some being beyond me and of whose existence “I” is aware only because it is related to “I,” this relation materialized by the hyphen. In “Song of a Man who is Loved,” one likewise reads: “So at last I touch / All that I am-not in softness, sweet softness, for she is such” (ll.17-8). Once again, the hyphen makes “am-not” something that definitely “is,” but that is not “I.” From the “I’s” standpoint, the other is determined by what the “I” is not, through a sort of mutual exclusive relativity.

30But the “I” also questions its own innate being, doing so in relative terms, as a form of gradable experience. Again in “Manifesto,” before introducing the “not-be” already mentioned, the speaker explains that what led him to this understanding is the experience of “surpassing”:

I have come, as it were, not to know,
died, as it were; ceased from knowing; surpassed myself.
What can I say more, except that I know what it is to surpass myself?

It is a kind of death which is not death.
It is going a little beyond the bounds. (ll.101-4).

It is a major part of being, this having surpassed oneself (l.112)


Every man himself, and therefore, a surpassing singleness of mankind (l.149).

  • 6 In The Rainbow reference is made to Ursula’s “maximum self”: “[…] it was begun now, this passion, a (...)

31These four occurrences clearly evolve from the specific, quite literal instance to a generic statement that departs from materiality –close therefore to an absolute proposition of truth. There seems then to be an intense being in “surpassing,” that is in making being maximum,6 in the gradation of being, in making it innately relative –one state of being depending on, and having meaning only in being related to, another state that is minor (or less intense).

32Relativity, which is here in fact quite binary, a relation between “being” and “not-being,” takes a more subtle dimension when it somehow establishes gradation in the experience of being. For instance, the fourteen occurrences of “how” in “Wedlock” point to a relative intensity of experience: “How I love all of you” (l.3), “How quaveringly I depend on you” (l.17), “How full and big like a robust, happy flame […]” (l.28), etc. With “how,” Lawrence seeks to touch what language cannot reach, to surpass words so as to suggest what remains beyond: what is relatively linked to that which can be named, but remains unnamed. “How” imparts nothing about the beyond, apart from its higher intensity. Living in relation with the other, as two absolute beings, somehow renders the experience of each absolute being strangely relative: the experience varies in intensity.

33This innate relativity of the “being” of each “being” is actually best evoked in “Wedlock,” where the male “I” says:

But how lovely to be you! Creep closer in, that I am more.
I spread over you! (ll.11-12, my emphasis)

34“Creep closer in, that I am more”: the balanced structure of these two comparative forms that are linked by “that,” which marks both the purpose and the cause and effect relation, suggests that a closer –thus gradual– contact between “I” and the other turns the independent “I” into an innately relative being. The beginning of the line (“how lovely to be you!”) which, again, refers to an unnameable intensity, perhaps makes the “more” slightly ambiguous. For indeed “more” is, in syntactic terms, absolute (or intransitive). The reader may then wonder, “more what?,” “more you”? or “more me”? The latter reading is more plausible: in contrast to “I am that I am, no more than that”, evoked earlier, and which is an absolute statement defining an absolute being (still in relation with the other), here “being” (and not “being something,” but just “being”) becomes gradable and innately relative, as it depends on another minor (or less intense) experience of being. In other words, the relativity inherent in the creeping “closer” of the two lovers leads to the innate relativity of each absolute being.

35To conclude our analysis, we may once again ask the question: do these poems provide a poetic incarnation of Lawrence’s “theory of human relativity”? Do the poetic and the human elements acquire meaning in relativity? There does not seem to be any coherent outline or any poetic system of representation here, when it comes to the engagement with the issues of the absolute and the relative in the context of these love poems. If Lawrence’s metaphysics of selfhood is quite easily readable –lovers keep their absolute integrity when they are related to one another– it seems that its poetic expression is constantly evolving, moving, in the making. In that sense, Lawrence actually offers no theory of human relativity, the theory, he says later, “we are in sad need of” (F 25). He just trusts the poetic flow, the “unrestful, ungraspable poetry of the sheer present, poetry whose very permanency lies in its wind-like transit” (CP 183). One can therefore surmise that in this collection of poems, it is actually through the suggestion of human relativity that Lawrence’s “theory” of poetry achieves its incarnation –and not the other way round. Through the suggestion, enacted in these poems, that human relativity (or love relativity) is characterized by its transience, and by the fact that the relative elements (here, the lovers) exist absolutely (they never fuse), and that within their absolute limits they are innately relative (with varying intensities of being), isn’t Lawrence adapting, in his figuring of human relationships the principle which he calls for in the making of the poem when, in “Poetry of the Present,” he argues:

There must be the rapid momentaneous association of things which meet and pass on the forever incalculable journey of creation: everything left in its own rapid, fluid relationship with the rest of things. (CP 183)

36Thus the relativity embodied in human relations is more or less the analogue of the principle of poetic incarnation adumbrated in this poetic manifesto.

37What also surfaces is the difficulty, in part deliberate, intrinsic to the poetic expression of what relativity stands for. While the idea of the absolute “I” is quite openly conveyed, whether semantically (“my own limitation”), metaphorically (with the routine metaphor of the “core”) or intertextually (“I am that I am”), the expression of relativity is less obvious and shimmers in the poetic form. Relativity somehow lies beyond language, in the poetic echoes, suggested in words such as “strange,” “unutterable,” “surpass,” by way of metaphors in the making (“the flame”), through a spatialisation of “being” and “not-being,” or the expressions of an intense unnameable beyond, evoked through the word “how” or the peculiar use of the comparative form “more.” The expression of relativity thus stands on the edge of poetry and draws it further.

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Becket, Fiona. D. H. Lawrence: The Thinker as Poet. London: MacMillan Press, 1997.

Clarke, Bruce. Energy Forms: Allegory and Science in the Era of Classical Thermodynamics. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2001.

Friedrich, Hugo. Structure de la poésie moderne. Paris: Le livre de poche, 1999.

Hayles, Nancy Katherine. “The Ambivalent Approach: D. H. Lawrence and the New Physics.” Mosaic 15, 1982, 89-108.

Hoshi, Kumoki. “D. H. Lawrence in Victorian relativism: a ‘Theory of Human Relativity’ in Aaron’s Rod,” in Hiyoshi Review of English Studies, No.59. November 2011, 37-58.

Lawrence, D. H. Complete Poems. Coll. and ed. with an Intro. by Vivian de Sola Pinto and Warren Roberts. London: Penguin, 1993 (1964).

. Fantasia of the Unconscious, and Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious (1923). Harmondsworth, Mddx, Penguin, 1977.

. Letters I (1901-13). Ed. James T. Boulton. Cambridge: CUP, 1979.

. The Rainbow. London: Penguin, 2000.

. Women in Love. London: Penguin, 2000.

Wutz, Michael. “The Thermodynamics of Gender: Lawrence, Science and Sexism,” in Mosaic 28, 1995, 83-108.

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1 This is more or less what Bruce Clarke suggests, when he says that Einstein’s theory of relativity was a useful metaphor available to Lawrence for the paradoxical expression of his own human theory of relativity: “For Lawrence, the most important implication of relativistic relationality was its availability as an authoritative metaphor with which to express, paradoxically, the metaphysics of individuality” (Clarke 210).

2 Exodus 3:14.

3Au sujet des équations métaphoriques, nous dirons encore ceci : tandis que la civilisation technicienne relie les uns aux autres les espaces matériels, la poésie – essentiellement au moyen de la métaphore – instaure une relation intime entre des éléments qui sont matériellement absolument inconciliables.(Friedrich 307)

4 “I conceive the man’s body as a kind of flame, like a candle flame forever upright and yet flowing; the intellect is just the light that is shed onto the things around” (L I, 503).

5 Among the several definitions Hoshi gives for relativity, there is “both the observer and the observed are moving relative to each other” (Hoshi 42).

6 In The Rainbow reference is made to Ursula’s “maximum self”: “[…] it was begun now, this passion, and must go on, the passion of Ursula to know her own maximum self, limited and so defined against him” (R 303).

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Elise Brault-Dreux, « “Creep closer in, that I am more” –Is there a “theory of human relativity” in the Poetics of Look! We Have Come Through? »Études Lawrenciennes [En ligne], 51 | 2020, mis en ligne le 10 juillet 2020, consulté le 21 octobre 2020. URL :; DOI:

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Elise Brault-Dreux

Elise Brault-Dreuxis a lecturer at Valenciennes University where she teaches English literature and language. Her research is mainly focussed on early 20th-century poetry and prose. She has published a book on the “I” in Lawrence's poetry, and several articles on Lawrence’s work, Katherine Mansfield's and T. S. Eliot’s poetry.

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