New edition of author's work reveals him as a talented war poet who attacked British imperialism
His poems took aim at politicians, the brutality of the first world war and English repression – but censorship and sloppy editing rendered them virtually meaningless, to the extent that the full extent of his poetic talent has been overlooked.
Deleted passages have now been restored and hundreds of punctuation errors removed for a major two-volume edition to be published on 28 March by Cambridge University Press – the final part of its mammoth 40-volume edition of Lawrence's Letters and Works.
The Poems, the first critical edition of Lawrence's poetry, sheds new light on the miner's son who became one of the 20th century's most influential writers, with novels such as Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow and Women in Love.
The new volume's editor, Christopher Pollnitz, told the Observer that it "radically shifts our understanding of Lawrence's significance as a poet". What was removed from the poems – by state censors or publishers fearing government intervention – was the "ultimate censorship", he said, because extensive and significant cuts made the texts virtually unreadable.
Lawrence wrote poetry from 1905 until his death in 1930, aged 44. Pollnitz said it is widely assumed that only the novels suffered censorship, "but it goes all through the poetry as well".
Some 860 poems are published in the new edition. They include All of Us, a sequence of 31 war poems never fully published before, which reveal Lawrence's preoccupation with the Allies' campaigns in the first world war.
Read this most interesting story in The Observer today here in London,what a joy to buy and read the hard copy of this superb newspaper. The print edition, the real thing !!