Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Aaron's Rod by D. H. Lawrence

Part 8 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download Aaron's Rod pdf
File size: 0.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

"What is it?" he asked.

"A bomb," said Lilly.

The manager, and one old waiter, and three or four youths had now
advanced to the place of debris. And now Aaron saw that a man was
lying there--and horror, blood was running across the floor of the
cafe. Men began now hastily to return to the place. Some seized
their hats and departed again at once. But many began to crowd in--
a black eager crowd of men pressing to where the bomb had burst--
where the man was lying. It was rather dark, some of the lamps were
broken--but enough still shone. Men surged in with that eager, excited
zest of people, when there has been an accident. Grey carabinieri, and
carabinieri in the cocked hat and fine Sunday uniform pressed forward

"Let us go," said Lilly.

And he went to the far corner, where his hat hung. But Aaron looked in
vain for his own hat. The bomb had fallen near the stand where he had
hung it and his overcoat.

"My hat and coat?" he said to Lilly.

Lilly, not very tall, stood on tiptoe. Then he climbed on a chair and
looked round. Then he squeezed past the crowd.

Aaron followed. On the other side of the crowd excited angry men
were wrestling over overcoats that were mixed up with a broken marble
table-top. Aaron spied his own black hat under the sofa near the
wall. He waited his turn and then in the confusion pressed forward
to where the coats were. Someone had dragged out his, and it lay
on the floor under many feet. He managed, with a struggle, to get
it from under the feet of the crowd. He felt at once for his flute.
But his trampled, torn coat had no flute in its pocket. He pushed
and struggled, caught sight of a section, and picked it up. But it
was split right down, two silver stops were torn out, and a long thin
spelch of wood was curiously torn off. He looked at it, and his heart
stood still. No need to look for the rest.

He felt utterly, utterly overcome--as if he didn't care what became
of him any further. He didn't care whether he were hit by a bomb,
or whether he himself threw the next bomb, and hit somebody. He just
didn't care any more about anything in life or death. It was as if the
reins of his life slipped from his hands. And he would let everything
run where it would, so long as it did run.

Then he became aware of Lilly's eyes on him--and automatically he
joined the little man.

"Let us go," said Lilly.

And they pushed their way through the door. The police were just
marching across the square. Aaron and Lilly walked in the opposite
direction. Groups of people were watching. Suddenly Lilly swerved
-- in the middle of the road was a large black glisten of blood,
trickling horribly. A wounded man had run from the blow and fallen

Aaron did not know where he was going. But in the Via Tournabuoni
Lilly turned towards the Arno, and soon they were on the Ponte Santa

"Who threw the bomb?" said Aaron.

"I suppose an anarchist."

"It's all the same," said Aaron.

The two men, as if unable to walk any further, leaned on the broad
parapet of the bridge and looked at the water in the darkness of the
still, deserted night. Aaron still had his flute section in his hand,
his overcoat over his arm.

"Is that your flute?" asked Lilly.

"Bit of it. Smashed."

"Let me look."

He looked, and gave it back.

"No good," he said.

"Oh, no," said Aaron.

"Throw it in the river, Aaron," said Lilly.

Aaron turned and looked at him.

"Throw it in the river," repeated Lilly. "It's an end."

Aaron nervelessly dropped the flute into the stream. The two men
stood leaning on the bridge-parapet, as if unable to move.

"We shall have to go home," said Lilly. "Tanny may hear of it and be

Aaron was quite dumbfounded by the night's event: the loss of his
flute. Here was a blow he had not expected. And the loss was for
him symbolistic. It chimed with something in his soul: the bomb,
the smashed flute, the end.

"There goes Aaron's Rod, then," he said to Lilly.

"It'll grow again. It's a reed, a water-plant--you can't kill it,"
said Lilly, unheeding.

"And me?"

"You'll have to live without a rod, meanwhile."

To which pleasant remark Aaron made no reply.



He went home to bed: and dreamed a strange dream. He dreamed that he
was in a country with which he was not acquainted. Night was coming
on, and he had nowhere to sleep. So he passed the mouth of a sort
of cave or house, in which a woman, an old woman, sat. Therefore he
entered, and though he could not understand the language, still his
second self understood. The cave was a house: and men came home from
work. His second self assumed that they were tin-miners.

He wandered uneasily to and fro, no one taking any particular notice
of him. And he realized that there was a whole vast country spreading,
a sort of underworld country, spreading away beyond him. He wandered
from vast apartment to apartment, down narrow corridors like the roads
in a mine. In one of the great square rooms, the men were going to
eat. And it seemed to him that what they were going to eat was a man,
naked man. But his second self knew that what appeared to his eyes as
a man was really a man's skin stuffed tight with prepared meat, as the
skin of a Bologna sausage. This did not prevent his seeing the naked
man who was to be eaten walk slowly and stiffly across the gangway and
down the corridor. He saw him from behind. It was a big handsome man
in the prime of life, quite naked and perhaps stupid. But of course he
was only a skin stuffed with meat, whom the grey tin-miners were going
to eat.

Aaron, the dream-Aaron, turned another way, and strayed along the vast
square rooms, cavern apartments. He came into one room where there
were many children, all in white gowns. And they were all busily
putting themselves to bed, in the many beds scattered about the room
at haphazard. And each child went to bed with a wreath of flowers
on its head, white flowers and pink, so it seemed. So there they all
lay, in their flower-crowns in the vast space of the rooms. And Aaron
went away.

He could not remember the following part. Only he seemed to have
passed through many grey domestic apartments, where were all women,
all greyish in their clothes and appearance, being wives of the
underground tin-miners. The men were away and the dream-Aaron
remembered with fear the food they were to eat.

The next thing he could recall was, that he was in a boat. And now he
was most definitely two people. His invisible, _conscious_ self, what
we have called his second self, hovered as it were before the prow of
the boat, seeing and knowing, but unseen. His other self, the palpable
Aaron, sat as a passenger in the boat, which was being rowed by the
unknown people of this underworld. They stood up as they thrust the
boat along. Other passengers were in the boat too, women as well,
but all of them unknown people, and not noticeable.

The boat was upon a great lake in the underworld country, a lake of
dark blue water, but crystal clear and very beautiful in colour. The
second or invisible Aaron sat in the prow and watched the fishes
swimming suspended in the clear, beautiful dark-blue water. Some
were pale fish, some frightening-looking, like centipedes swimming,
and some were dark fish, of definite form, and delightful to watch.

The palpable or visible Aaron sat at the side of the boat, on the end
of the middle seat, with his naked right elbow leaning out over the
side. And now the boat entered upon shallows. The impalpable Aaron in
the bows saw the whitish clay of the bottom swirl up in clouds at each
thrust of the oars, whitish-clayey clouds which would envelope the
strange fishes in a sudden mist. And on the right hand of the course
stakes stood up in the water, at intervals, to mark the course.

The boat must pass very near these stakes, almost touching. And
Aaron's naked elbow was leaning right over the side. As they
approached the first stake, the boatmen all uttered a strange cry of
warning, in a foreign language. The flesh-and-blood Aaron seemed not
even to hear. The invisible Aaron heard, but did not comprehend the
words of the cry.

So the naked elbow struck smartly against the stake as the boat passed.

The rowers rowed on. And still the flesh-and-blood Aaron sat with his
arm over the side. Another stake was nearing. "Will he heed, will he
heed?" thought the anxious second self. The rowers gave the strange
warning cry. He did not heed, and again the elbow struck against the
stake as the boat passed. And yet the flesh-and-blood Aaron sat on
and made no sign. There were stakes all along this shallow part of
the lake. Beyond was deep water again. The invisible Aaron was
becoming anxious. "Will he never hear? Will he never heed? Will he
never understand?" he thought. And he watched in pain for the next
stake. But still the flesh-and-blood Aaron sat on, and though the
rowers cried so acutely that the invisible Aaron almost understood
their very language, still the Aaron seated at the side heard nothing,
and his elbow struck against the third stake.

This was almost too much. But after a few moments, as the boat rowed
on, the palpable Aaron changed his position as he sat, and drew in
his arm: though even now he was not aware of any need to do so. The
invisible Aaron breathed with relief in the bows, the boat swung
steadily on, into the deep, unfathomable water again.

They were drawing near a city. A lake-city, like Mexico. They must
have reached a city, because when Aaron woke up and tried to piece
together the dream of which these are mere fragments, he could
remember having just seen an idol. An Astarte he knew it as, seated
by the road, and in her open lap, were some eggs: smallish hen's eggs,
and one or two bigger eggs, like swan's, and one single little roll of
bread. These lay in the lap of the roadside Astarte. . . . And then
he could remember no more.

He woke, and for a minute tried to remember what he had been dreaming,
and what it all meant. But he quickly relinquished the effort. So he
looked at his watch: it was only half-past three. He had one of those
American watches with luminous, phosphorescent figures and fingers.
And tonight he felt afraid of its eerily shining face.

He was awake a long time in the dark--for two hours, thinking and
not thinking, in that barren state which is not sleep, nor yet full
wakefulness, and which is a painful strain. At length he went to
sleep again, and did not wake till past eight o'clock. He did not
ring for his coffee till nine.

Outside was a bright day--but he hardly heeded it. He lay
profitlessly thinking. With the breaking of the flute, that which was
slowly breaking had finally shattered at last. And there was nothing
ahead: no plan, no prospect. He knew quite well that people would
help him: Francis Dekker or Angus Guest or the Marchese or Lilly.
They would get him a new flute, and find him engagements. But what
was the good? His flute was broken, and broken finally. The bomb had
settled it. The bomb had settled it and everything. It was an end,
no matter how he tried to patch things up. The only thing he felt
was a thread of destiny attaching him to Lilly. The rest had all
gone as bare and bald as the dead orb of the moon. So he made up
his mind, if he could, to make some plan that would bring his life
together with that of his evanescent friend.

Lilly was a peculiar bird. Clever and attractive as he undoubtedly
was, he was perhaps the most objectionable person to know. It was
stamped on his peculiar face. Aaron thought of Lilly's dark, ugly
face, which had something that lurked in it as a creature under
leaves. Then he thought of the wide-apart eyes, with their curious
candour and surety. The peculiar, half-veiled surety, as if nothing,
nothing could overcome him. It made people angry, this look of silent,
indifferent assurance. "Nothing can touch him on the quick, nothing
can really GET at him," they felt at last. And they felt it with
resentment, almost with hate. They wanted to be able to get at him.
For he was so open-seeming, so very outspoken. He gave himself away
so much. And he had no money to fall back on. Yet he gave himself
away so easily, paid such attention, almost deference to any chance
friend. So they all thought: Here is a wise person who finds me the
wonder which I really am.--And lo and behold, after he had given them
the trial, and found their inevitable limitations, he departed and
ceased to heed their wonderful existence. Which, to say the least
of it, was fraudulent and damnable. It was then, after his departure,
that they realised his basic indifference to them, and his silent
arrogance. A silent arrogance that knew all their wisdom, and left
them to it.

Aaron had been through it all. He had started by thinking Lilly a
peculiar little freak: gone on to think him a wonderful chap, and a
bit pathetic: progressed, and found him generous, but overbearing:
then cruel and intolerant, allowing no man to have a soul of his own:
then terribly arrogant, throwing a fellow aside like an old glove
which is in holes at the finger-ends. And all the time, which was
most beastly, seeing through one. All the time, freak and outsider
as he was, Lilly _knew_. He knew, and his soul was against the whole

Driven to bay, and forced to choose. Forced to choose, not between
life and death, but between the world and the uncertain, assertive
Lilly. Forced to choose, and yet, in the world, having nothing left
to choose. For in the world there was nothing left to choose, unless
he would give in and try for success. Aaron knew well enough that
if he liked to do a bit of buttering, people would gladly make a
success of him, and give him money and success. He could become
quite a favourite.

But no! If he had to give in to something: if he really had to give
in, and it seemed he had: then he would rather give in to the little
Lilly than to the beastly people of the world. If he had to give in,
then it should be to no woman, and to no social ideal, and to no
social institution. No!--if he had to yield his wilful independence,
and give himself, then he would rather give himself to the little,
individual man than to any of the rest. For to tell the truth, in the
man was something incomprehensible, which had dominion over him, if he
chose to allow it.

As he lay pondering this over, escaping from the _cul de sac_ in which
he had been running for so long, by yielding to one of his pursuers:
yielding to the peculiar mastery of one man's nature rather than to
the quicksands of woman or the stinking bogs of society: yielding,
since yield he must, in some direction or other: yielding in a new
direction now, to one strange and incalculable little individual: as
Aaron lay so relaxing, finding a peculiar delight in giving his soul
to his mind's hero, the self-same hero tapped and entered.

"I wondered," he said, "if you'd like to walk into the country with
me: it is such a nice day. I thought you might have gone out already.
But here you are in bed like a woman who's had a baby.--You're all
right, are you?"

"Yes," said Aaron. "I'm all right."

"Miserable about your flute?--Ah, well, there are more flutes. Get
up then." And Lilly went to the window, and stood looking out at
the river.

"We're going away on Thursday," he said.

"Where to?" said Aaron.

"Naples. We've got a little house there for the winter--in the
country, not far from Sorrento--I must get a bit of work done, now
the winter is coming. And forget all about everything and just live
with life. What's the good of running after life, when we've got it
in us, if nobody prevents us and obstructs us?"

Aaron felt very queer.

"But for how long will you settle down--?" he asked.

"Oh, only the winter. I am a vagrant really: or a migrant. I must
migrate. Do you think a cuckoo in Africa and a cuckoo in Essex is one
AND the same bird? Anyhow, I know I must oscillate between north and
south, so oscillate I do. It's just my nature. All people don't have
the same needs."

"Perhaps not," said Aaron, who had risen and was sitting on the side
of the bed.

"I would very much like to try life in another continent, among another
race. I feel Europe becoming like a cage to me. Europe may be all
right in herself. But I find myself chafing. Another year I shall
get out. I shall leave Europe. I begin to feel caged."

"I guess there are others that feel caged, as well as you," said Aaron.

"I guess there are."

"And maybe they haven't a chance to get out."

Lilly was silent a moment. Then he said:

"Well, I didn't make life and society. I can only go my own way."

Aaron too was silent. A deep disappointment was settling over his

"Will you be alone all winter?"

"Just myself and Tanny," he answered. "But people always turn up."

"And then next year, what will you do?"

"Who knows? I may sail far off. I should like to. I should like to
try quite a new life-mode. This is finished in me--and yet perhaps
it is absurd to go further. I'm rather sick of seekers. I hate a

"What," said Aaron rather sarcastically--"those who are looking for a
new religion?"

"Religion--and love--and all that. It's a disease now."

"Oh, I don't know," said Aaron. "Perhaps the lack of love and religion
is the disease."

"Ah--bah! The grinding the old millstones of love and God is what ails
us, when there's no more grist between the stones. We've ground love
very small. Time to forget it. Forget the very words religion, and
God, and love--then have a shot at a new mode. But the very words
rivet us down and don't let us move. Rivets, and we can't get them

"And where should we be if we could?" said Aaron.

"We might begin to be ourselves, anyhow."

"And what does that mean?" said Aaron. "Being yourself--what does it

"To me, everything."

"And to most folks, nothing. They've got to have a goal."

"There is no goal. I loathe goals more than any other impertinence.
Gaols, they are. Bah--jails and jailers, gaols and gaolers---"

"Wherever you go, you'll find people with their noses tied to some
goal," said Aaron.

"Their wagon hitched to a star--which goes round and round like an ass
in a gin," laughed Lilly. "Be damned to it."

Aaron got himself dressed, and the two men went out, took a tram and
went into the country. Aaron could not help it--Lilly put his back up.
They came to a little inn near a bridge, where a broad stream rustled
bright and shallow. It was a sunny warm day, and Aaron and Lilly had
a table outside under the thin trees at the top of the bank above the
river. The yellow leaves were falling--the Tuscan sky was turquoise
blue. In the stream below three naked boys still adventurously bathed,
and lay flat on the shingle in the sun. A wagon with two pale, loving,
velvety oxen drew slowly down the hill, looking at each step as if
they were going to come to rest, to move no more. But still they
stepped forward. Till they came to the inn, and there they stood at
rest. Two old women were picking the last acorns under three scrubby
oak-trees, whilst a girl with bare feet drove her two goats and a
sheep up from the water-side towards the women. The girl wore a
dress that had been blue, perhaps indigo, but which had faded to the
beautiful lavender-purple colour which is so common, and which always
reminded Lilly of purple anemones in the south.

The two friends sat in the sun and drank red wine. It was midday.
From the thin, square belfry on the opposite hill the bells had rung.
The old women and the girl squatted under the trees, eating their bread
and figs. The boys were dressing, fluttering into their shirts on the
stream's shingle. A big girl went past, with somebody's dinner tied
in a red kerchief and perched on her head. It was one of the most
precious hours: the hour of pause, noon, and the sun, and the quiet
acceptance of the world. At such a time everything seems to fall into
a true relationship, after the strain of work and of urge.

Aaron looked at Lilly, and saw the same odd, distant look on his
face as on the face of some animal when it lies awake and alert,
yet perfectly at one with its surroundings. It was something quite
different from happiness: an alert enjoyment of rest, an intense and
satisfying sense of centrality. As a dog when it basks in the sun with
one eye open and winking: or a rabbit quite still and wide-eyed, with
a faintly-twitching nose. Not passivity, but alert enjoyment of being
central, life-central in one's own little circumambient world.

They sat thus still--or lay under the trees--for an hour and a half.
Then Lilly paid the bill, and went on.

"What am I going to do this winter, do you think?" Aaron asked.

"What do you want to do?"

"Nay, that's what I want to know."

"Do you want anything? I mean, does something drive you from inside?"

"I can't just rest," said Aaron.

"Can't you settle down to something?--to a job, for instance?"

"I've not found the job I could settle down to, yet," said Aaron.

"Why not?"

"It's just my nature."

"Are you a seeker? Have you got a divine urge, or need?"

"How do I know?" laughed Aaron. "Perhaps I've got a DAMNED urge, at
the bottom of me. I'm sure it's nothing divine."

"Very well then. Now, in life, there are only two great dynamic
urges--do you believe me--?"

"How do I know?" laughed Aaron. "Do you want to be believed?"

"No, I don't care a straw. Only for your own sake, you'd better
believe me."

"All right then--what about it?"

"Well, then, there are only two great dynamic urges in LIFE: love and

"Love and power?" said Aaron. "I don't see power as so very

"You don't see because you don't look. But that's not the point. What
sort of urge is your urge? Is it the love urge?"

"I don't know," said Aaron.

"Yes, you do. You know that you have got an urge, don't you?"

"Yes--" rather unwillingly Aaron admitted it.

"Well then, what is it? Is it that you want to love, or to be obeyed?"

"A bit of both."

"All right--a bit of both. And what are you looking for in love?--A
woman whom you can love, and who will love you, out and out and all in
all and happy ever after sort of thing?"

"That's what I started out for, perhaps," laughed Aaron.

"And now you know it's all my eye!" Aaron looked at Lilly, unwilling
to admit it. Lilly began to laugh.

"You know it well enough," he said. "It's one of your lost illusions,
my boy. Well, then, what next? Is it a God you're after? Do you want
a God you can strive to and attain, through love, and live happy ever
after, countless millions of eternities, immortality and all that? Is
this your little dodge?"

Again Aaron looked at Lilly with that odd double look of mockery and
unwillingness to give himself away.

"All right then. You've got a love-urge that urges you to God; have
you? Then go and join the Buddhists in Burmah, or the newest fangled
Christians in Europe. Go and stick your head in a bush of Nirvana or
spiritual perfection. Trot off."

"I won't," said Aaron.

"You must. If you've got a love-urge, then give it its fulfilment."

"I haven't got a love-urge."

"You have. You want to get excited in love. You want to be carried
away in love. You want to whoosh off in a nice little love whoosh and
love yourself. Don't deny it. I know you do. You want passion to
sweep you off on wings of fire till you surpass yourself, and like the
swooping eagle swoop right into the sun. I know you, my love-boy."

"Not any more--not any more. I've been had too often," laughed Aaron.

"Bah, it's a lesson men never learn. No matter how sick they make
themselves with love, they always rush for more, like a dog to his

"Well, what am I to do then, if I'm not to love?" cried Aaron.

"You want to go on, from passion to passion, from ecstasy to ecstasy,
from triumph to triumph, till you can whoosh away into glory, beyond
yourself, all bonds loosened and happy ever after. Either that or
Nirvana, opposite side of the medal."

"There's probably more hate than love in me," said Aaron.

"That's the recoil of the same urge. The anarchist, the criminal, the
murderer, he is only the extreme lover acting on the recoil. But it
is love: only in recoil. It flies back, the love-urge, and becomes
a horror."

"All right then. I'm a criminal and a murderer," said Aaron.

"No, you're not. But you've a love-urge. And perhaps on the recoil
just now. But listen to me. It's no good thinking the love-urge
is the one and only. _Niente_! You can whoosh if you like, and get
excited and carried away loving a woman, or humanity, or God. Swoop
away in the love direction till you lose yourself. But that's where
you're had. You can't lose yourself. You can try. But you might
just as well try to swallow yourself. You'll only bite your fingers
off in the attempt. You can't lose yourself, neither in woman nor
humanity nor in God. You've always got yourself on your hands in the
end: and a very raw and jaded and humiliated and nervous-neurasthenic
self it is, too, in the end. A very nasty thing to wake up to is one's
own raw self after an excessive love-whoosh. Look even at President
Wilson: he love-whooshed for humanity, and found in the end he'd only
got a very sorry self on his hands.

"So leave off. Leave off, my boy. Leave off love-whooshing. You
can't lose yourself, so stop trying. The responsibility is on your
own shoulders all the time, and no God which man has ever struck can
take it off. You ARE yourself and so BE yourself. Stick to it and
abide by it. Passion or no passion, ecstasy or no ecstasy, urge or no
urge, there's no goal outside you, where you can consummate like an
eagle flying into the sun, or a moth into a candle. There's no goal
outside you--and there's no God outside you. No God, whom you can get
to and rest in. None. It's a case of:

'Trot, trot to market, to buy a penny bun,
And trot, trot back again, as fast as you can run.'

But there's no God outside you, whom you can rise to or sink to or
swoop away to. You can't even gum yourself to a divine Nirvana moon.
Because all the time you've got to eat your dinner and digest it.
There is no goal outside you. None.

"There is only one thing, your own very self. So you'd better stick
to it. You can't be any bigger than just yourself, so you needn't
drag God in. You've got one job, and no more. There inside you lies
your own very self, like a germinating egg, your precious Easter egg
of your own soul. There it is, developing bit by bit, from one single
egg-cell which you were at your conception in your mother's womb, on
and on to the strange and peculiar complication in unity which never
stops till you die--if then. You've got an innermost, integral unique
self, and since it's the only thing you have got or ever will have,
don't go trying to lose it. You've got to develop it, from the egg
into the chicken, and from the chicken into the one-and-only phoenix,
of which there can only be one at a time in the universe. There can
only be one of you at a time in the universe--and one of me. So don't
forget it. Your own single oneness is your destiny. Your destiny
comes from within, from your own self-form. And you can't know it
beforehand, neither your destiny nor your self-form. You can only
develop it. You can only stick to your own very self, and NEVER
betray it. And by so sticking, you develop the one and only phoenix
of your own self, and you unfold your own destiny, as a dandelion
unfolds itself into a dandelion, and not into a stick of celery.

"Remember this, my boy: you've never got to deny the Holy Ghost which
is inside you, your own soul's self. Never. Or you'll catch it. And
you've never got to think you'll dodge the responsibility of your own
soul's self, by loving or sacrificing or Nirvaning--or even anarchising
and throwing bombs. You never will. . . ."

Aaron was silenced for a moment by this flood of words. Then he said

"So I'd better sit tight on my soul, till it hatches, had I?"

"Oh, yes. If your soul's urge urges you to love, then love. But
always know that what you are doing is the fulfilling of your own
soul's impulse. It's no good trying to act by prescription: not a
bit. And it's no use getting into frenzies. If you've got to go
in for love and passion, go in for them. But they aren't the goal.
They're a mere means: a life-means, if you will. The only goal is
the fulfilling of your own soul's active desire and suggestion. Be
passionate as much as ever it is your nature to be passionate, and
deeply sensual as far as you can be. Small souls have a small
sensuality, deep souls a deep one. But remember, all the time, the
responsibility is upon your own head, it all rests with your own
lonely soul, the responsibility for your own action."

"I never said it didn't," said Aaron.

"You never said it did. You never accepted. You thought there was
something outside, to justify you: God, or a creed, or a prescription.
But remember, your soul inside you is your only Godhead. It develops
your actions within you as a tree develops its own new cells. And
the cells push on into buds and boughs and flowers. And these are
your passion and your acts and your thoughts and expressions, your
developing consciousness. You don't know beforehand, and you can't.
You can only stick to your own soul through thick and thin.

"You are your own Tree of Life, roots and limbs and trunk. Somewhere
within the wholeness of the tree lies the very self, the quick: its
own innate Holy Ghost. And this Holy Ghost puts forth new buds, and
pushes past old limits, and shakes off a whole body of dying leaves.
And the old limits hate being empassed, and the old leaves hate to
fall. But they must, if the tree-soul says so. . . ."

They had sat again during this harangue, under a white wall. Aaron
listened more to the voice than the words. It was more the sound
value which entered his soul, the tone, the strange speech-music which
sank into him. The sense he hardly heeded. And yet he understood, he
knew. He understood, oh so much more deeply than if be had listened
with his head. And he answered an objection from the bottom of his

"But you talk," he said, "as if we were like trees, alone by ourselves
in the world. We aren't. If we love, it needs another person than
ourselves. And if we hate, and even if we talk."

"Quite," said Lilly. "And that's just the point. We've got to love
and hate moreover--and even talk. But we haven't got to fix on any
one of these modes, and say that's the only mode. It is such
imbecility to say that love and love alone must rule. It is so
obviously not the case. Yet we try and make it so."

"I feel that," said Aaron. "It's all a lie."

"It's worse. It's a half lie. But listen. I told you there were
two urges--two great life-urges, didn't I? There may be more. But
it comes on me so strongly, now, that there are two: love, and power.
And we've been trying to work ourselves, at least as individuals, from
the love-urge exclusively, hating the power-urge, and repressing it.
And now I find we've got to accept the very thing we've hated.

"We've exhausted our love-urge, for the moment. And yet we try to
force it to continue working. So we get inevitably anarchy and murder.
It's no good. We've got to accept the power motive, accept it in deep
responsibility, do you understand me? It is a great life motive. It
was that great dark power-urge which kept Egypt so intensely living
for so many centuries. It is a vast dark source of life and strength
in us now, waiting either to issue into true action, or to burst into
cataclysm. Power--the power-urge. The will-to-power--but not in
Nietzsche's sense. Not intellectual power. Not mental power. Not
conscious will-power. Not even wisdom. But dark, living, fructifying
power. Do you know what I mean?"

"I don't know," said Aaron.

"Take what you call love, for example. In the real way of love, the
positive aim is to make the other person--or persons--happy. It
devotes itself to the other or to others. But change the mode. Let
the urge be the urge of power. Then the great desire is not happiness,
neither of the beloved nor of oneself. Happiness is only one of many
states, and it is horrible to think of fixing us down to one state.
The urge of power does not seek for happiness any more than for any
other state. It urges from within, darkly, for the displacing of
the old leaves, the inception of the new. It is powerful and self-
central, not seeking its centre outside, in some God or some beloved,
but acting indomitably from within itself.

"And of course there must be one who urges, and one who is impelled.
Just as in love there is a beloved and a lover: The man is supposed to
be the lover, the woman the beloved. Now, in the urge of power, it is
the reverse. The woman must submit, but deeply, deeply submit. Not
to any foolish fixed authority, not to any foolish and arbitrary will.
But to something deep, deeper. To the soul in its dark motion of power
and pride. We must reverse the poles. The woman must now submit--
but deeply, deeply, and richly! No subservience. None of that. No
slavery. A deep, unfathomable free submission."

"You'll never get it," said Aaron.

"You will, if you abandon the love idea and the love motive, and if
you stand apart, and never bully, never force from the conscious will.
That's where Nietzsche was wrong. His was the conscious and benevolent
will, in fact, the love-will. But the deep power-urge is not conscious
of its aims: and it is certainly not consciously benevolent or love-
directed.--Whatever else happens, somewhere, sometime, the deep power-
urge in man will have to issue forth again, and woman will submit,
livingly, not subjectedly."

"She never will," persisted Aaron. "Anything else will happen, but
not that."

"She will," said Lilly, "once man disengages himself from the love-
mode, and stands clear. Once he stands clear, and the other great
urge begins to flow in him, then the woman won't be able to resist.
Her own soul will wish to yield itself."

"Woman yield--?" Aaron re-echoed.

"Woman--and man too. Yield to the deep power-soul in the individual
man, and obey implicitly. I don't go back on what I said before. I do
believe that every man must fulfil his own soul, every woman must be
herself, herself only, not some man's instrument, or some embodied
theory. But the mode of our being is such that we can only live and
have our being whilst we are implicit in one of the great dynamic
modes. We MUST either love, or rule. And once the love-mode changes,
as change it must, for we are worn out and becoming evil in its
persistence, then the other mode will take place in us. And there
will be profound, profound obedience in place of this love-crying,
obedience to the incalculable power-urge. And men must submit to the
greater soul in a man, for their guidance: and women must submit to
the positive power-soul in man, for their being."

"You'll never get it," said Aaron.

"You will, when all men want it. All men say, they want a leader.
Then let them in their souls submit to some greater soul than theirs.
At present, when they say they want a leader, they mean they want an
instrument, like Lloyd George. A mere instrument for their use. But
it's more than that. It's the reverse. It's the deep, fathomless
submission to the heroic soul in a greater man. You, Aaron, you too
have the need to submit. You, too, have the need livingly to yield to
a more heroic soul, to give yourself. You know you have. And you know
it isn't love. It is life-submission. And you know it. But you kick
against the pricks. And perhaps you'd rather die than yield. And so,
die you must. It is your affair."

There was a long pause. Then Aaron looked up into Lilly's face.
It was dark and remote-seeming. It was like a Byzantine eikon at
the moment.

"And whom shall I submit to?" he said.

"Your soul will tell you," replied the other.


Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest