Gloire de Dijon
“Gloire de Dijon” is a poem written by D.H. Lawrence published in Look! We have come through! This book contains several poems describing Lawrence’s tormented romance with Frieda von Richthofen, a German woman who left his family for him. Even though Lawrence is included among Modernist writers, the themes used in his poems are not in total consonance with the subjects treated by other Modernists. His poetry is completely personal, “Piano”, one of his most famous poems, reveals the feelings of a man who misses his mother, contradicting T.S. Eliot’s ideas about the role of the self that a poet should have (“The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.” (2556)). Lawrence is known for the contrary, Look! is a good example of Lawrence’s personal life reflected on his poetry. “Gloire de Dijon” can be interpreted as a poem speaking about the love and admiration that the poetic voice feels for the woman he is watching, comparing her with Venus when she was born. Lawrence describes this image by making use of repetition, a literary device that is characteristic of his prose and poetry. In “Gloire de Dijon” he repeats some combinations of nouns and adjectives, until he draws an image in reader’s mind.
The poem consists of two stanzas, one of ten lines and the second of eight. The first stanza describes a woman waking up and getting naked before taking a shower. The poetic voice follows her and describes the glow that the sun gives to her skin. Golden color is invoked by naming the “sunbeams”, “Golden shadow, “like full-blown yellow”, and the rose from the variety Gloire the Dijon, a golden-like colored rose. The second stanza introduces water and silver color to the scene. By naming two of the most valuable metals, Lawrence introduces the idea of value and treasure. The poetic voice keeps comparing the woman with a rose getting the first drips of water in the morning and by the end of the stanza it repeats the idea of a glowing golden body in lines 6-8: “Concentrates her golden shadow/ Fold on fold, until it glows as/ Mellow as the glory roses”. The repetition of “golden shadow”, “glows as” and “glory roses” creates an effect of closure and leaves the reader with an image of a golden woman.
The use of repetition allows Lawrence to get a poetic tone (Hriţcu 356). In “Gloire de Dijon” the reader can find a number of repeated words like window, golden shadow, glisten, roses, shoulders, sunlight and sunbeams, glow, and a wordplay: “Gloire de Dijon roses” (1,10) vs. “Mellow as the glory roses” (2,8). Sotirova explains that repetition is used sometimes as an empathic device, it helps to transmit strong emotions as well as to create ambiguities (125). The ambiguity present in the poem might be this: a naked woman getting out of the bathroom or the description of a rose opening its petals in the morning. “Gloire de Dijon” is also a type of rose, known by its golden hue. The love that the poetic voice reflects is a strong feeling that the reader can get by imagining the woman-rose taking a shower in the morning. The scene is warm and intimate, an effect that Lawrence probably intended.
Eliot, T.S. “Tradition and the Individual Talent”. The Norton anthology of English literature. Greenblatt, Stephen, ed. W.W. Norton Company, Inc: New York, USA. 2012.
Hriţcu, Oana Ruxandra. “Lexical Peculiarities of D.H. Lawrence’s Poetic Prose.” International Journal of Communication Research, vol. 2, no. 4, Oct-Dec2012, p. 356. EBSCOhost, pbidi.unam.mx:8080/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edb&AN=84949317&lang=es&site=eds-live.
Sotirova, Violeta. “Repetition in Free Indirect Style: A Dialogue of Minds?.” Style, vol. 39, no. 2, Summer 2005, pp. 123-136. EBSCOhost, pbidi.unam.mx:8080/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hus&AN=509765004&lang=es&site=eds-live.
© 2018 Daniela Alvarez