Click on the pictures to see enlarged versions of the images.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Walking Away

(Self-Portrait at Age 13, silverpoint on
paper, by Albrecht Dürer, 1471-1528,
German printmaker and painter)

We now come to the end of this month’s visit to childhood. In today’s poem, the poet recalls a day in the life of his eldest son.

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” ~ Mark Twain


(for Sean)

It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day —
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled — since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away

Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.

That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I never quite grasp to convey
About nature’s give-and-take — the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay.

I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show —
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.

~ C. Day-Lewis (1904-1972), Irish poet, who also wrote popular mystery novels under the name of Nicholas Blake


Barbara Sulliva Mangogna said...

I have enjoyed every single "Childhood" poem -- I'm saving every one. The beautiful art work is a BONUS

Anonymous said...

Youre quite right with this writing!

Anonymous said...

This definitely makes perfect sense to me...

Anonymous said...

Thankfully some bloggers can still write. Thank you for this blog post...

Anonymous said...

This surely makes great sense.