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Poem by David Herbert Lawrence


Worm Either Way


If you live along with all the other people
and are just like them, and conform, and are nice
you're just a worm --

and if you live with all the other people
and you don't like them and won't be like them and won't conform
then you're just the worm that has turned,
in either case, a worm.

The conforming worm stays just inside the skin
respectably unseen, and cheerfully gnaws away at the heart of life,
making it all rotten inside.

The unconforming worm -- that is, the worm that has turned --
gnaws just the same, gnawing the substance out of life,
but he insists on gnawing a little hole in the social epidermis
and poking his head out and waving himself
and saying: Look at me, I am not respectable,
I do all the things the bourgeois daren't do,
I booze and fornicate and use foul language and despise your honest man.--

But why should the worm that has turned protest so much?
The bonnie bonnie bourgeois goes a-whoring up back streets just the same.
The busy busy bourgeois imbibes his little share
just the same
if not more.
The pretty pretty bourgeois pinks his language just as pink
if not pinker,
and in private boasts his exploits even louder, if you ask me,
than the other.
While as to honesty, Oh look where the money lies!

So I can't see where the worm that has turned puts anything over
the worm that is too cunning to turn.
On the contrary, he merely gives himself away.
The turned worm shouts. I bravely booze!
the other says. Have one with me!
The turned worm boasts: I copulate!
the unturned says: You look it.
You're a d----- b----- b----- p----- bb-----, says the worm that's turned.
Quite! says the other. Cuckoo! 



                      David Herbert Lawrence


David Herbert Lawrence's other poems:
  1. Service of all the Dead
  2. Meeting among the Mountains
  3. Discipline
  4. Listening
  5. A Spiritual Woman


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