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The Rainbow

The Rainbow

David Herbert Lawrence

Update: 2020-04-22

Chapter 1 How Tom Brangwen Married a Polish Lady

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  • The Brangwens had lived for generations on the Marsh Farm, in the meadow_here the Erewash twisted sluggishly through alder trees, separatin_erbyshire from Nottinghamshire. Two miles away, a church-tower stood on _ill, the houses of the little country town climbing assiduously up to it.
  • Whenever one of the Brangwens in the fields lifted his head from his work, h_aw the church-tower at Ilkeston in the empty sky. So that as he turned agai_o the horizontal land, he was aware of something standing above him an_eyond him in the distance.
  • There was a look in the eyes of the Brangwens as if they were expectin_omething unknown, about which they were eager. They had that air of readines_or what would come to them, a kind of surety, an expectancy, the look of a_nheritor.
  • They were fresh, blond, slow-speaking people, revealing themselves plainly,
  • but slowly, so that one could watch the change in their eyes from laughter t_nger, blue, lit-up laughter, to a hard blue-staring anger; through all th_rresolute stages of the sky when the weather is changing.
  • Living on rich land, on their own land, near to a growing town, they ha_orgotten what it was to be in straitened circumstances. They had never becom_ich, because there were always children, and the patrimony was divided ever_ime. But always, at the Marsh, there was ample.
  • So the Brangwens came and went without fear of necessity, working hard becaus_f the life that was in them, not for want of the money. Neither were the_hriftless. They were aware of the last halfpenny, and instinct made them no_aste the peeling of their apple, for it would help to feed the cattle. Bu_eaven and earth was teeming around them, and how should this cease? They fel_he rush of the sap in spring, they knew the wave which cannot halt, but ever_ear throws forward the seed to begetting, and, falling back, leaves th_oung-born on the earth. They knew the intercourse between heaven and earth,
  • sunshine drawn into the breast and bowels, the rain sucked up in the daytime,
  • nakedness that comes under the wind in autumn, showing the birds' nests n_onger worth hiding. Their life and interrelations were such; feeling th_ulse and body of the soil, that opened to their furrow for the grain, an_ecame smooth and supple after their ploughing, and clung to their feet with _eight that pulled like desire, lying hard and unresponsive when the crop_ere to be shorn away. The young corn waved and was silken, and the lustr_lid along the limbs of the men who saw it. They took the udder of the cows,
  • the cows yielded milk and pulse against the hands of the men, the pulse of th_lood of the teats of the cows beat into the pulse of the hands of the men.
  • They mounted their horses, and held life between the grip of their knees, the_arnessed their horses at the wagon, and, with hand on the bridle-rings, dre_he heaving of the horses after their will.
  • In autumn the partridges whirred up, birds in flocks blew like spray acros_he fallow, rooks appeared on the grey, watery heavens, and flew cawing int_he winter. Then the men sat by the fire in the house where the women move_bout with surety, and the limbs and the body of the men were impregnated wit_he day, cattle and earth and vegetation and the sky, the men sat by the fir_nd their brains were inert, as their blood flowed heavy with the accumulatio_rom the living day.
  • The women were different. On them too was the drowse of blood-intimacy, calve_ucking and hens running together in droves, and young geese palpitating i_he hand while the food was pushed down their throttle. But the women looke_ut from the heated, blind intercourse of farm-life, to the spoken worl_eyond. They were aware of the lips and the mind of the world speaking an_iving utterance, they heard the sound in the distance, and they strained t_isten.
  • It was enough for the men, that the earth heaved and opened its furrow t_hem, that the wind blew to dry the wet wheat, and set the young ears of cor_heeling freshly round about; it was enough that they helped the cow i_abour, or ferreted the rats from under the barn, or broke the back of _abbit with a sharp knock of the hand. So much warmth and generating and pai_nd death did they know in their blood, earth and sky and beast and gree_lants, so much exchange and interchange they had with these, that they live_ull and surcharged, their senses full fed, their faces always turned to th_eat of the blood, staring into the sun, dazed with looking towards the sourc_f generation, unable to turn round.
  • But the woman wanted another form of life than this, something that was no_lood-intimacy. Her house faced out from the farm-buildings and fields, looke_ut to the road and the village with church and Hall and the world beyond. Sh_tood to see the far-off world of cities and governments and the active scop_f man, the magic land to her, where secrets were made known and desire_ulfilled. She faced outwards to where men moved dominant and creative, havin_urned their back on the pulsing heat of creation, and with this behind them,
  • were set out to discover what was beyond, to enlarge their own scope and rang_nd freedom; whereas the Brangwen men faced inwards to the teeming life o_reation, which poured unresolved into their veins.
  • Looking out, as she must, from the front of her house towards the activity o_an in the world at large, whilst her husband looked out to the back at sk_nd harvest and beast and land, she strained her eyes to see what man had don_n fighting outwards to knowledge, she strained to hear how he uttered himsel_n his conquest, her deepest desire hung on the battle that she heard, fa_ff, being waged on the edge of the unknown. She also wanted to know, and t_e of the fighting host.
  • At home, even so near as Cossethay, was the vicar, who spoke the other, magi_anguage, and had the other, finer bearing, both of which she could perceive,
  • but could never attain to. The vicar moved in worlds beyond where her ow_enfolk existed. Did she not know her own menfolk: fresh, slow, full-buil_en, masterful enough, but easy, native to the earth, lacking outwardness an_ange of motion. Whereas the vicar, dark and dry and small beside her husband,
  • had yet a quickness and a range of being that made Brangwen, in his larg_eniality, seem dull and local. She knew her husband. But in the vicar'_ature was that which passed beyond her knowledge. As Brangwen had power ove_he cattle so the vicar had power over her husband. What was it in the vicar,
  • that raised him above the common men as man is raised above the beast? Sh_raved to know. She craved to achieve this higher being, if not in herself,
  • then in her children. That which makes a man strong even if he be little an_rail in body, just as any man is little and frail beside a bull, and ye_tronger than the bull, what was it? It was not money nor power nor position.
  • What power had the vicar over Tom Brangwen-none. Yet strip them and set the_n a desert island, and the vicar was the master. His soul was master of th_ther man's. And why-why? She decided it was a question of knowledge.
  • The curate was poor enough, and not very efficacious as a man, either, yet h_ook rank with those others, the superior. She watched his children bein_orn, she saw them running as tiny things beside their mother. And alread_hey were separate from her own children, distinct. Why were her own childre_arked below the others? Why should the curate's children inevitably tak_recedence over her children, why should dominance be given them from th_tart? It was not money, nor even class. It was education and experience, sh_ecided.
  • It was this, this education, this higher form of being, that the mother wishe_o give to her children, so that they too could live the supreme life o_arth. For her children, at least the children of her heart, had the complet_ature that should take place in equality with the living, vital people in th_and, not be left behind obscure among the labourers. Why must they remai_bscured and stifled all their lives, why should they suffer from lack o_reedom to move? How should they learn the entry into the finer, more vivi_ircle of life?
  • Her imagination was fired by the squire's lady at Shelly Hall, who came t_hurch at Cossethay with her little children, girls in tidy capes of beave_ur, and smart little hats, herself like a winter rose, so fair and delicate.
  • So fair, so fine in mould, so luminous, what was it that Mrs. Hardy felt whic_he, Mrs. Brangwen, did not feel? How was Mrs. Hardy's nature different fro_hat of the common women of Cossethay, in what was it beyond them? All th_omen of Cossethay talked eagerly about Mrs. Hardy, of her husband, he_hildren, her guests, her dress, of her servants and her housekeeping. Th_ady of the Hall was the living dream of their lives, her life was the epi_hat inspired their lives. In her they lived imaginatively, and in gossipin_f her husband who drank, of her scandalous brother, of Lord William Bentle_er friend, member of Parliament for the division, they had their own Odysse_nacting itself, Penelope and Ulysses before them, and Circe and the swine an_he endless web.
  • So the women of the village were fortunate. They saw themselves in the lady o_he manor, each of them lived her own fulfilment of the life of Mrs. Hardy.
  • And the Brangwen wife of the Marsh aspired beyond herself, towards the furthe_ife of the finer woman, towards the extended being she revealed, as _raveller in his self-contained manner reveals far-off countries present i_imself. But why should a knowledge of far-off countries make a man's life _ifferent thing, finer, bigger? And why is a man more than the beast and th_attle that serve him? It is the same thing.
  • The male part of the poem was filled in by such men as the vicar and Lor_illiam, lean, eager men with strange movements, men who had command of th_urther fields, whose lives ranged over a great extent. Ah, it was somethin_ery desirable to know, this touch of the wonderful men who had the power o_hought and comprehension. The women of the village might be much fonder o_om Brangwen, and more at their ease with him, yet if their lives had bee_obbed of the vicar, and of Lord William, the leading shoot would have bee_ut away from them, they would have been heavy and uninspired and inclined t_ate. So long as the wonder of the beyond was before them, they could ge_long, whatever their lot. And Mrs. Hardy, and the vicar, and Lord William,
  • these moved in the wonder of the beyond, and were visible to the eyes o_ossethay in their motion.