Lawrence hates bats but he wrote some great poems about them.


Lawrence finds bats repulsive and sickening, so he is quite baffled that the Chinese regard them as a symbol of good luck and happiness.

In Florence, Lawrence observes how a daytime sky dominated by flights of swallows becomes the dominion of swarms of Pipistrelle bats after darkness descends. He compares the switch over between the species to the changing of a military guard.

The writer admires the bats for their aerobatic acrobatic dexterity and skill, as he sees them flying round in not quite perfect circular loops.

What he finds vile is the bat’s sleeping arrangements, when it simply hangs upside down, in the rafters and from ceiling beams, grinning like devils.

Lawrence compares the bat to a hand-glove and to a fragment of umbrella, and he gets somewhat shrill and hysterical in his use of the melodramatic exclamation mark as he relates their name, “Bats!”

As much as he tries to show how he appalled by the bat, Lawrence sounds filled with admiration and respect for the flying mammal, and his evocative description of Florence by night in the background to the poem is superb.

Arthur Chappell.

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  • juliet A on Feb 19, 2012

    david herbert in his poem is trying to show how disgusting and dark the bats are but i think he kinda likes them

  • Arthur Chappell on Feb 19, 2012

    Absolutely right Juliet – cheers, AC

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