Until Demi Moore came along, “Self-Pity” was primarily known for being part of poetic infamy. The poem was included in the collection of titled Pansies: Poems which became infamous as the result of its being seized and confiscated by government officials in 1929 on the rather specious grounds that the poetic material contained within was "obscene.” Even by the standards of 1929, one would be hard-pressed to discover anything within the collection capable of shocking even any typical adult of the time period. Today, of course, the suggestion that “Self-Pity” or, indeed, any other poem to be found in Pansies: Poems could be considered obscene by any known standard definition of that word is simply ludicrous.
Not one to stand by in the face of such extreme censorship, D. H. Lawrence immediately set to work creating another copy of the collection to be published as part of his ongoing battles with official Moral Police of the time. In the meantime, “Self-Pity” faded into relative oblivion behind such pioneering works of prose as Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Women in Love, The Rainbow and “The Rocking Horse Winner.”
Until the release of the Demi Moore film G.I. Jane toward the end of summer 1997, that is. The story about the first woman to be accepted into the training program for what is essentially a thinly fictionalized version of the Navy SEALS brought “Self-Pity” back into the public consciousness in a way bigger even than attempts at censoring it out of existence. The film draws to a close with the poem prominently featured as a means of capping its overriding theme about determination being essential to success.