At the end of the poem the line "and dreaming with strange whale eyes wide open in the waters of the beginning and the end" gives us a clue to the answer to this question. These whales with eyes wide open see reality. The meaning is that in our evolution we have closed our eyes on reality and in doing so have rejected passion.
The whole poem is written in a rhythmic pattern with calming language that also suggests a higher power. The result is that the reader begins to long for this enchanting life of the whale. While the poem raises questions in its content, it also allows the reader to experience the longing that Lawrence feels.
The Mystic Blue
The Mystic Blue is a poem about death and was written while Lawrence was grieving the loss of his mother. The poem has a staggered quality to it, reflected in it you can see that the mind of the poet is not quite right. Consider the line, "to sight, revealing a secret, numberless secrets keeping." The double use of the word secret and the combination of words makes it appear awkward. While at first, this poem may seem like one badly written, we can look at it again and realize that it was written by a grieving mind. The lack of reasoned thought present while one is in grief is captured in the poem.
The other noticeable thing in the poem is the repeat of the word 'blue.' Lawrence often used the color blue to represent grief. Of the five verses the word 'blue' appears in all except the last, and in the third twice. The poem also has a dreamlike quality with a combination of positive and negative words together. For the negative we have "darkness," "fretted," "rocking," "surge" and "shaken." All these words suggest some change, some upheaval. The positive words we mainly see in the end of the poem and include "pure," "dazzle," "joyous," "arching" and "wonder."
So we see in the language we have groups of words that also suggest contradiction and chaos. At the same time the poem is not either positive or negative, it seems more a combination of both. What we have represented is the upheaval and awkwardness of dealing with grief.
Green was published in the Look! We Have Come Through. (1917) This was at the start of Lawrence's relationship with Frieda, who later became his wife. This poem is filled with a light-hearted hope that is not common to Lawrence's poem. It represents the way he felt at that time in his life, how his love for Frieda freed him from his problems. The first line, "the dawn was apple-green" represents a change or a new awakening. Firstly by the word dawn, and secondly by apple-green. The apple is a reminder of the Garden of Eden, which represents both longing and happiness. In the second part we realize that the green dawn he is speaking of is the opening of her green eyes. The whole poem has an easy childlike rhyme to it. As well as that the images are childlike, 'the sky was green wine.' This represents the innocence and happiness he was feeling.
Only Man was published after Lawrence's death in Last Poems. (1932)
This poems returns to the man vs. animal theme similar to what was seen in Snake. The poem begins, "Only man can fall from God. Only man." He continues by comparing man to animal. He represents each animal with how man would see it's poor qualities, such as "beast," "creeping thing," and "hideous white ant."
The irony is that these negative qualities really aren't negative. It is man with the negative qualities because only man can fall from God.
The irony within the poem is that man falls from God because of his need to find out about himself, this idea is represented in the lines saying, "for the knowledge of the self-apart-from God is an abyss down which the soul can slip."
So as man tries to understand himself more, he actually moves further and further from the truth. This gradual move away from the truth is further enforced by the repitition in the poem. The reader gets a sense of falling, falling from grace. The animals however, no matter how hideous they are described as cannot "slip entirely through the fingers of the hands of god."
The question that Lawrence once again raises is for what purpose does society continue on its path away from nature. It is also a mark of Lawrence's struggle to define himself not just as an individual but as a part of society, something he has described saying, "one is not only a little individual living a little individual life, but that is in oneself the whole of mankind, and ones fate is the whole of mankind, and ones charge is the whole of mankind" (Boulton II, 302).
Boulton, James. T. Letters I: The Letters of DH Lawrence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.
Boulton, James. T., Zytaruk, George. J. Letters II: The Letters of DH Lawrence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. "DH Lawrence." New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. http://www.bartleby.com/65/la/LawrencDH.html
Sagar, Keith. Life into Art. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985.