'Tortoise Family Connections' by D.H. Lawrence

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1918On he goes, the little one,
Bud of the universe,
Pediment of life.
Setting off somewhere, apparently.
Whither away, brisk egg?His mother deposited him on the soil as if he were no more than droppings,
And now he scuffles tinily past her as if she were an old rusty tin.A mere obstacle,
He veers round the slow great mound of her --
Tortoises always foresee obstacles.It is no use my saying to him in an emotional voice:
"This is your Mother, she laid you when you were an egg."He does not even trouble to answer: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?"
He wearily looks the other way,
And she even more wearily looks another way still,
Each with the utmost apathy,
Nothing.As for papa,
He snaps when I offer him his offspring,
Just as he snaps when I poke a bit of stick at him,
Because he is irascible this morning, an irascible tortoise
Being touched with love, and devoid of fatherliness.Father and mother,
And three little brothers,
And all rambling aimless, like little perambulating pebbles scattered in the garden,
Not knowing each other from bits of earth or old tins.Except that papa and mama are old acquaintances, of course,
Though family feeling there is none, not even the beginnings.Fatherless, motherless, brotherless, sisterless
Little tortoise.Row on then, small pebble,
Over the clods of the autumn, wind-chilled sunshine,
Young gaiety.Does he look for a companion?No, no, don't think it.
He doesn't know he is alone;
Isolation is his birthright,
This atom.To row forward, and reach himself tall on spiny toes,
To travel, to burrow into a little loose earth, afraid of the night,
To crop a little substance,
To move, and to be quite sure that he is moving:
To be a tortoise!
Think of it, in a garden of inert clods
A brisk, brindled little tortoise, all to himself --
Adam!In a garden of pebbles and insects
To roam, and feel the slow heart beat
Tortoise-wise, the first bell sounding
From the warm blood, in the dark-creation morning.Moving, and being himself,
Slow, and unquestioned,
And inordinately there, O stoic!
Wandering in the slow triumph of his own existence,
Ringing the soundless bell of his presence in chaos,
And biting the frail grass arrogantly,
Decidedly arrogantly.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry, Tortoise Family Connections: A Literary Criticism

D.H. Lawrence

What happens when a poet takes inspiration from nature? Is it possible to create a poem that captures not just the beauty, but also the essence of the natural world? These are questions that D.H. Lawrence seeks to answer in his poem, "Tortoise Family Connections." In this literary criticism, we will explore the themes and motifs of the poem, as well as the stylistic techniques used by the poet to create a work of art that is both beautiful and thought-provoking.

Themes and Motifs

At its core, "Tortoise Family Connections" is a celebration of the natural world. Lawrence uses the image of the tortoise to explore the interconnectedness of all living things, and to highlight the beauty and complexity of the ecosystem. The poem is filled with vivid descriptions of the different animals that share the tortoise's habitat, from the "flashing finches" to the "curled grey wolf." Lawrence shows us how each of these creatures is connected to the others, and how they are all part of a larger system that is constantly in flux.

Another key theme of the poem is the idea of cyclical time. Lawrence emphasizes the cyclical nature of the tortoise's life, and uses this as a metaphor for the larger cycles of nature. The tortoise is born, lives, and dies, but its energy and spirit are never really gone. Instead, they are transformed and recycled back into the natural world. Lawrence suggests that this cyclical process is both beautiful and necessary, and that it is what gives life its depth and meaning.

Stylistic Techniques

One of the most striking things about "Tortoise Family Connections" is its use of language. Lawrence's poetry is rich and evocative, filled with vivid images and sensory details that bring the natural world to life. He uses metaphors and similes to create a sense of connection between different elements of nature, drawing parallels between the tortoise's shell and the rocks and cliffs around it, or between the tortoise's slow movements and the rhythm of the waves. This creates a sense of unity and harmony that is essential to the poem's message.

Another technique that Lawrence employs is repetition. He repeats certain phrases and images throughout the poem, creating a sense of rhythm and continuity that reinforces the poem's cyclical themes. For example, the phrase "scrape the air with wings" is repeated several times, each time with a slightly different context or emphasis. This repetition helps to tie the different sections of the poem together, and gives the reader a sense of the interconnectedness of all things.


So what does "Tortoise Family Connections" really mean? At its heart, the poem is a celebration of the natural world, and a call to recognize the interconnectedness of all living things. Lawrence uses the image of the tortoise to explore these ideas, showing us how the tortoise is both an individual creature and a symbol of the ecosystem as a whole. By emphasizing the cyclical nature of the tortoise's life, he suggests that everything in nature is in a constant state of change and transformation, and that this is what gives life its richness and depth.

But the poem is not just a celebration of nature. It is also a warning about the dangers of human interference in the natural world. Lawrence's descriptions of the tortoise's habitat are full of references to human activity, from the "tractor's tooth" that disturbs the land to the "clanging train" that disrupts the peace of the forest. He suggests that human beings have a tendency to disrupt the cycles of nature, and that this can have devastating consequences for the ecosystem as a whole.


In "Tortoise Family Connections," D.H. Lawrence creates a work of art that is both beautiful and thought-provoking. The poem celebrates the natural world while also warning us about the dangers of human interference. Lawrence's use of language and imagery creates a sense of unity and interconnectedness that is essential to the poem's message. By exploring the cyclical nature of the tortoise's life, he suggests that everything in nature is connected, and that this connection is what gives life its depth and meaning. Ultimately, "Tortoise Family Connections" is a powerful reminder of our place in the natural world, and of the responsibilities that come with that place.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Tortoise Family Connections: A Masterpiece by D.H. Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence, one of the most celebrated writers of the 20th century, is known for his profound insights into human nature and his ability to capture the essence of life in his works. Among his many literary masterpieces, Poetry Tortoise Family Connections stands out as a unique and powerful piece of poetry that explores the complex relationships between family members.

In this 2000-word analysis, we will delve deep into the themes, symbolism, and literary devices used by Lawrence in Poetry Tortoise Family Connections. We will explore the poem's meaning, its relevance to our lives today, and why it continues to be a timeless piece of literature.

The poem begins with the image of a tortoise, a slow-moving creature that is often associated with wisdom and longevity. The tortoise is described as "old and wise" and "slow and steady," suggesting that it has lived a long and meaningful life. The tortoise is also a symbol of family, as it carries its home on its back and is often seen as a protector of its young.

Lawrence then introduces the concept of family connections, describing how the tortoise's shell is "a house of many rooms" that is "full of memories." This metaphorical description of the tortoise's shell as a house suggests that family is not just a physical place, but also a place of emotional and psychological comfort. The memories that fill the shell represent the experiences and relationships that have shaped the tortoise's life and made it who it is.

The poem then shifts to a description of the tortoise's family members, including its mother, father, and siblings. The mother is described as "a gentle soul" who "nurtured and cared" for the tortoise, while the father is described as "a stern figure" who "taught and disciplined" the tortoise. The siblings are described as "playful and mischievous," suggesting that they brought joy and excitement to the tortoise's life.

Through these descriptions, Lawrence highlights the different roles that family members play in shaping our lives. The mother represents love and nurturing, while the father represents discipline and guidance. The siblings represent companionship and playfulness, which are essential for a happy and fulfilling life.

The poem then takes a darker turn, as Lawrence describes how the tortoise's family members have all passed away, leaving the tortoise alone. The mother is described as having "faded away," the father as having "gone to rest," and the siblings as having "disappeared." This sudden shift in tone is a reminder that life is fleeting and that we must cherish our loved ones while we have them.

Despite the loss of its family members, the tortoise is not alone. Lawrence describes how the tortoise has "many friends" who "visit and stay," suggesting that the tortoise has found a new family in its community. This is a powerful message about the importance of social connections and how they can provide us with the support and love that we need to thrive.

The poem ends with a reflection on the tortoise's life, describing how it has "lived and loved" and "seen and heard." The tortoise's life is a testament to the power of family connections and the importance of cherishing the memories and experiences that shape our lives.

In terms of literary devices, Lawrence uses a variety of techniques to convey his message. The use of metaphor, such as the tortoise's shell as a house, is a powerful way to convey complex ideas in a simple and relatable way. The use of imagery, such as the description of the tortoise's family members, helps to create a vivid and emotional picture in the reader's mind.

The use of repetition, such as the repeated use of the word "family," helps to reinforce the poem's central theme and create a sense of unity and continuity. The use of contrast, such as the contrast between the tortoise's old and wise nature and the playful nature of its siblings, helps to create a sense of balance and complexity in the poem.

In terms of themes, Poetry Tortoise Family Connections explores the importance of family, the fleeting nature of life, and the power of social connections. These themes are universal and timeless, making the poem relevant to readers of all ages and backgrounds.

In conclusion, Poetry Tortoise Family Connections is a masterpiece of poetry that explores the complex relationships between family members. Through its use of metaphor, imagery, repetition, and contrast, the poem conveys a powerful message about the importance of family connections and the fleeting nature of life. Its themes are universal and timeless, making it a relevant and powerful piece of literature that continues to resonate with readers today.

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