Men In New Mexico

by D. H. Lawrence

D. H. Lawrence

MOUNTAINS blanket-wrapped
Round a white hearth of desert--
While the sun goes round
And round and round the desert,
The mountains never get up and walk about.
They can't, they can't wake.
They camped and went to sleep
In the last twilight
Of Indian gods;
And they can't wake.
Indians dance and run and stamp--
No good.
White men make gold-mines and the mountains unmake them
In their sleep.
The Indians laugh in their sleep
From fear,
Like a man when he sleeps and his sleep is over, and he
can't wake up,
And he lies like a log and screams and his scream is silent
Because his body can't wake up;
So he laughs from fear, pure fear, in the grip of the sleep.
A dark membrane over the will, holding a man down
Even when the mind has flickered awake;
A membrane of sleep, like a black blanket.
We walk in our sleep, in this land,
Somnambulist wide-eyed afraid.
We scream for someone to wake us
And our scream is soundless in the paralysis of sleep,
And we know it.
The Penitentes lash themselves till they run with blood
In their efforts to come awake for one moment;
To tear the membrane of this sleep . . .
No good.
The Indians thought the white man would awake them . . .
And instead, the white men scramble asleep in the mountains,
And ride on horseback asleep forever through the desert,
And shoot one another, amazed and mad with somnambulism,
Thinking death will awaken something . . .
No good.
Born with a caul,
A black membrane over the face,
And unable to tear it,
Though the mind is awake.
Mountains blanket-wrapped
Round the ash-white hearth of the desert;
And though the sun leaps like a thing unleashed in the sky
They can't get up, they are under the blanket.

Last updated January 14, 2019