Aaron Sissons, the protagonist of D. H. Lawrence’s Aaron’s Rod, leaves his wife and three young children to find himself. Something he never does. The “rod” is his flute, which he plays well enough to earn a modest living. It is also a pun on his sexuality and the need to settle his sexuality, which is more oriented towards men than women.

While traveling by train across Italy to Florence, Aaron falls in with two men Angus and Francis, homosexual lovers, who picnic in their compartment during a layover. So, while Aaron and Francis go off for food, Angus gets down his red picnic case to make tea. When they return with packets of newspaper each filled “roast chestnuts, piping hot, and hard dried plums, and good dried figs, and rather stale rusks, they find Angus just about to drop the tea leaves into boiling water.

They spread  the food on the floor and fill  the silver-fitted tea glasses on the floor—and the “The picnic was in full swing.” Angus sits cross-legged in the Buddha fashion and appears to be in a mystic state. The train-conductor, the ticket-collector, and a passenger marvel at him, but when Angus calls out “Buon’ appetito,” they slam the compartment door and move on.

Featured Image: First U.S. edition (1922)  by Thomas Seltzer. In Exodus, Aaron’s rod is transformed into a serpent that devours all of Pharaoh’s serpents; in Numbers, it flowers and produces ripe almonds.

See D.H. Lawrence. Aaron’s Rod. London: William Heinemann Ltd: 1922; Aaron’s Rod; The Cambridge Edition. Edited by Mara Kalnins. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1988