Reader Richard draws our attention to this remarkable poem by D. H. Lawrence. It’s called All That We Have is Life. Richard aptly remarks, “I think he was on our side!”

*clears throat.* Here goes:

All that we have, while we live, is life;
and if you don’t live during your life, you are a piece of dung.
And work is life, and life is lived in work
unless you’re a wage-slave.
While a wage-slave works, he leaves life aside
and stands there a piece of dung.

Men should refuse to be lifelessly at work.
Men should refuse to be heaps of wage-earning dung.
Men should refuse to work at all, as wage-slaves.
Men should demand to work for themselves, of themselves,
and put their life into it.
For if a man has no life in his work, he is mostly a heap of dung.

Not one to mince words was he, old D. H.?

I’ve read no Lawrence other than The Plumed Serpent, which I’m told is not typical of his work. Had Richard not passed this on to me, I doubt I’d have come across it for decades, if ever, so thanks Richard.

If, like me and D. H. Lawrence, you’ve ever felt like a HEAP OF DUNG, you might enjoy The Good Life for Wage Slaves, out now!


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at www.wringham.co.uk/about.

5 Responses to “Dung”

  1. Glincoln says:

    I read the Rocking-Horse Winner by D.H. Lawrence back in college. It’s a short story by D. H. Lawrence, which was first published in 1926. It’s difficult to say for certain, but one likely interpretation of the story is that if you expend all your energy trying to accrue wealth, it will end up destroying you.

  2. Lovely! Thank you. I will read The Rocking-Horse Winner and I’ll post some quotations here if it feels right to do so.

  3. Marion says:

    Do you know where this poem is published? I can’t find it anywhere.

  4. It does seem to be a little tricky to find in book form, but you’re talking to a recovering librarian here. Here are three options from Google Books, but you’d probably do okay with any “complete” poetry collection of his. (Not all “Completes” are complete, of course but these three seem to have it).

    1. The Poetry of DH Lawrence

    2. The Complete Poems of DH Lawrence

    3. Complete Poems by Lawrence

  5. It’s hardly mentioned online either. The top results are New Escapologist and a blog called Nottingham and Beyond, which belongs to Richard who sent me the poem!

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