In the Preface to this second edition of her first book, Sandra M. Gilbert addresses the inevitable question: "How can you be a feminist and a Lawrentian?" The answer is intellectually satisfying and historically revealing as she traces an array of early twentieth-century women of letters, some of them proto-feminists, who revered Lawrence despite his countless statements that would today be condemned as "sexist."
H.D. regarded him as one of her "initiators" whose words "flamed alive, blue serpents on the page." Anais Nin insisted that he "had a complete realization of the feelings of women."
By focusing on Lawrence’s own definition of a poem as an "act of attention," Gilbert demonstrates how he developed the mature style of Birds, Beasts and Flowers, his finest collection of poetry. She discusses this volume at length, examines many of his later poems in detail, including the hymns from The Plumed Serpent, Pansies, Nettles, and More Pansies, and ends with a close look at Last Poems. Her detailed examination provides a clearer image of Lawrence as an artist—an artist whose poetry complements his novels and whose fiction enriches but does not outshine his poetry.