Money is our madness, our vest collective madness. And of course, if the multitude is mad the individual carries his own grain of insanity around with him. I doubt if any man living hands out a pound note without a pang; and a real tremor, if he hands out a ten pound note. We quail, money makes us quail. It has got us down; we grovel before it in strange terror. And no wonder, for money has a fearful cruel power among men. But it is not money we are so terrified of, it is the collective money-madness of mankind.
For mankind says with one voice: how much is he worth? Has he no money? Then let him eat dirt and go cold. – And if I have no money, they will give me a little bread so I do not die, but they will make me eat dirt with it. I shall have to eat dirt, I shall have to eat dirt if I have no money. It is that I am frightened of. And that fear can become a delirium. It is fear of my money-mad fellow-men. We must have some money to save us from eating dirt. And this is all wrong. Bread should be free, Shelter should be free, Fire should be free, to all and anybody, all and anybody, all over the world.
We must regain our sanity about money before we start killing one another about it. It’s one thing or the other. The poem ‘Money Madness’ by D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) is a romantic poem which was published in 1929 in the collection Pansies. It is clearly an example of romantic poetry of the early 20th century. Romanticism characterizes what is called a ‘new’ kind of poetry with the usage of a ‘new’ kind of language. These poems aimed to bring about a change to the already existing notions regarding poetry.
It is clear to us that the language used by the poet here, is simple and can be understood by the common man. The main objective of romantic poetry is to abandon the traditional norms of poetry and to use the vernacular and simple language that can be understood by all. This form of poetry always tries to throw light on the aspects of life and human surroundings, which usually go unnoticed by men. The usual topics relate to the very relation of man and his deeds with nature, the positive as well as the negative aspects of man’s actions ad their effects on the surroundings.
The poem under consideration deals with a topic of universal importance regarding the ‘vast collective madness’ of human beings with respect to money. All these reasons clearly explain the romantic nature of this poem. The kind of theoretical approach, which has to be applied for the analysis of this poem, is New Criticism. New Criticism is a largely independent and important school of literary criticism, which does away with the affective and intentional fallacy in the analyses of a text.
As is the case with this poem, we notice that there is no need to bring about an author-oriented approach to understand the text. This does away with the intentional fallacy with regard to the analyses. At the same time, we see that there is no need to consider the responses of the readers for better understanding. Hence, we avoid affective fallacy as well. The only aspects that matter in the text are the core aspects of the text in itself which becomes clear with the application of close reading. This poem describes how man will suffer in the end if he does not control his greed for money.
The attitudes of people change with the accumulation or loss of money. As a result, the person who is fortunate enough to earn feels superior to the unfortunate poor man who is ill-treated in the end. The poet mentions that the poor man will be given some bread in order to keep him alive, but at the same time, he will be made to eat dirt along with it. In the end, the poet demands that bread, shelter and fire should be free. Man should regain his sanity regarding money or else he will start killing his fellow men for it.
The poem teaches us an important lesson in our day-to-day lives as is the nature of all romantic poems. Another poem, which can be regarded in the same manner, is “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats. It is also a romantic poem by one of the most famous and important figures of the romantic period. The approach utilized in the proper interpretation of the poem is new criticism. In this poem, the round and self-contained form of the vase under consideration shows the unity of the entire poem. The features of new criticism and romanticism make these two works similar.
The romantic period can be said to have begun with the publication of the ‘Lyrical Ballads’ by William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge. Lord Byron, Percy Byssche Shelly and John Keats comprised the latter period of the movement. Romantic poetry has always fascinated the minds of the readers with the life of the authors. The main attraction might be the fact that most of the poets died at a young age. Above was the analysis of a contemporary romantic poem and its comparison to another similar work by John Keats.