Desolate Towns


This is basically just an extremely poetic stream of consciousness.

I’m reciting one of my favorite poems by my all time, Nostalgia by D.H. Lawrence, for my English class in a few days and naturally I am freaking out about memorizing it. Twenty lines is nothing compared to the gargantuan texts we used to memorize in fourth grade, the digits of pi I recited over and over again and eventually forgot, and every rap song I’ve ever seen as a challenge to remember and bust out at any given time flawlessly. Still, telling anxiety shut up is about as actively helpful as putting a dog at the steering wheel of a car and telling it not to crash.

My poem propped up on the inside of my sock drawer and leaning against my record player, I swayed back and forth frantically trying to repeat the words over and over again. Then, it clicked.

If I understood what the poem was about and tried to apply it to my life, I could see the meaning and purpose about why I am doing what I am doing. I’ve loved this poem for a really long time and I’ve never been able to put the pieces together as to why it hit home so hard with me.

Nostalgia is a poem about, you guessed it, nostalgia.

  1. a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal association

Lawrence compares this feeling to an old house in his mind, a house that he can never go into. It is full of ghosts that taunt him and welcome him in, even though he can never pass the threshold. He can admire the moss on the walls and he can kiss the stones that make up the house, but he can never be in it. In case you haven’t noticed,there are no time machines and thus we cannot go back in time to visit moments in our life. Yet, the desire to do so is overwhelmingly strong and sometimes consumes someone wholly to the point where they wish that the memory never existed in the first place.

I wish I could talk to Lawrence and ask him what burning memory made him write this poem and a few others like it. Was it a woman? A fleeting moment he could never get back to? Whomever or whatever he wrote it about, that is besides the point. The point of poetry, I think, is not to tell everyone what the poet is thinking. It is to force the audience to hear their words and make them try to apply it to their lives. It is to provide people with answers and explanations about their feelings and thoughts.

Taking his thoughts about nostalgia and forming them into houses, I wonder if all of our minds are metaphorically towns. Each memory of our life makes up something in these towns. It could be as small as a fire hydrant or as big as a skyscraper. There are squat houses and corporate buildings that hold our memories and make us up as people. We can never go into these buildings, as Lawrence explains. We can only walk around these desolate towns and learn to appreciate a structure from the outside looking in.

I ask you, what is the biggest house on one of your blocks in your head? What is inside of it that puts weights on your heart and fills you with a want to be in there? Is it a place? A concert? A person?


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