A Twitch, a Twitter, an Elastic Shudder in Flight: Kinesthetic Empathy in D. H. Lawrence’s Bat Poems


This article explores the representation of human‒animal interaction in D. H. Lawrence’s poems “Bat” and “Man and Bat.” Many influential critics interpret the poems as emphasizing the lack of connection, hospitality, and empathy between the poet and the bats, focusing on the relentless objectification of the animals and the poet’s negative attitude towards them. We argue, however, that these poems can also invite different types of readings, by investigating the ways in which Lawrence employs perceptual and kinetic imagery to create a certain degree of embodied, kinesthetic empathy with the bats. Using theoretical and methodological frameworks from cognitive-literary approaches to kinesthesia and human‒animal studies, we analyze Lawrence’s multilayered poetic rendition of human‒animal interaction, to understand how the poet stages the tension between the symbolic/cultural connotations associated with bats and humans’ perception of their embodied, affective, and kinetic being.

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