“When I hear modern people complain of being lonely then I know what has happened. They have lost the cosmos.” ~ D. H. Lawrence, from Apocalypse

Subway Crowd at Times Square

The following appeared on my tumblr dash the other day, and while I do think that Lawrence is the author, I know that it is not from the poem entitled “People,” as the post suggested. However, I cannot find the proper title for this poem. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but I don’t like to perpetuate a misattribution on these Interwebs. If anyone knows the source of this quote, please send me a link. Thanks.

“I like people quite well
at a little distance.
I like to see them passing and passing
and going on their way,
especially if I see their aloneness alive in them.
Yet I don’t want them to come near.
If they will only leave me alone
I can still have the illusion that there is room enough in the world.”

~ D. H. Lawrence


8 thoughts on ““When I hear modern people complain of being lonely then I know what has happened. They have lost the cosmos.” ~ D. H. Lawrence, from Apocalypse

  1. Okay… This is from the “Twentieth-Century English Poetry” database of NC Live. It has the poem, and it appears to be called PEOPLE. It says:
    ” Lawrence, D. H. (David Herbert), 1886 – 1930 : PEOPLE [from Complete Poems (1993) , Penguin: MORE PANSIES ]”

    And, at the bottom of the poem, it says Copyright The Estate of Frieda Lawrence Ravagli.

    Ms. Ravagli died in 1956.

    Not sure what the MORE PANSIES is, but maybe you can tell. Those brackets are what they had written down, I copied it exactly.

    So, it looks like he might have two poems called “People”.

    Wikipedia says that he wrote “a large number of satirical poems, published under the title of “Pansies” and “Nettles”.

    1. Thanks for doing the research. That’s a very confusing reference. Perhaps the poem first appeared in a collection called More Pansies and then later in Complete Poems. Lawrence has always been a struggle for me. We read Women in Love in grad school, and I never made it through. I’m thinking that I need to revisit his novels now that I have the time and the interest.

  2. Although, in Google Books, there is a “Complete Poems by Lawrence: Easyread Comfort Edition” (page 350) with this poem and at the top it says “People.” Are there two poems named “People” or are these poems labeled by subject matter or what????

    1. See, that’s why I’m confused. When I looked up D. H. Lawrence “People,” I got a different poem. Maybe he wrote two by the same name, or it could be one of those situations in which Lawrence named a poem “People,” and left one untitled, so a publisher named it “People.”

      Thanks for looking.

  3. I’m no help. They’ve changed the college databases to where you need an advanced degree to figure out how to use them. I don’t have his collected works, which might solve the problem. You’re definitely right that it’s not “People”. Maybe a librarian is reading your blog and will find the answer for us.

    1. I completely agree on the database thing, confusing, but I also no longer have access to the GW database, which isn’t cool as far as I’m concerned. Alumni should be able to log in to the databases because we’ve paid them enough money for a lifetime.

      1. I agree. What harm would it do to allow alumni access? NC and GA have databases that the public can use through public libraries. NC’s is called “NC LIVE”. We can access it at home if we have a library card. I might try that… Virginia probably has something similar. Of course, when you get to the library to ask, you can look up the poem in one of the complete works. Surely they have that.

      2. Ah, but to look it up in a library would involve leaving the house, which I am only beginning to do on a regular basis……..

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