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.
Cecil Day-Lewis (1904-1972)
Wikipedia tells us:
‘Cecil Day-Lewis (or Day Lewis) CBE (27 April 1904 – 22 May 1972), often writing as C. Day-Lewis, was an Anglo-Irish poet and Poet Laureate from 1968 until his death in 1972. He also wrote mystery stories under the pseudonym of Nicholas Blake.’
This poem is known to be about the poet's oldest son, Sean, who was born in 1931. It was written in 1956. Eighteen years previously, at the time of the incident the father is remembering, the boy would have been seven.
Ah yes, isn't that just the age when our children begin the long journey away from us into themselves? With mixed feelings we relinquish them to school, into the care of other adults, to experiences outside home and family.
If I was still doing Wild Fridays, I'd have to create a new category for this one: Heart-breakers. For it quite breaks my heart.
My sons are men in their fifties now, so I'm even further from the young Mum who used to watch them playing sport (in their case basketball) than Day-Lewis was from the memory he was writing about. But time makes little difference to memories such as these. They are happy memories, of course – treasured memories – and yet there's a pang. Those days and those youngsters will not come again.
So, dear wordsmiths, I invite you to write about 'walking away'. It need not be a heart-breaker; instead you might tell me about a walking away that is triumphant, joyful, or a case of doing the right thing. Perhaps, like Day-Lewis, you'll be watching someone else walk away, or perhaps it's you doing the walking. A new piece of poetry or prose, please. Prose can be fiction or non-fiction, and please keep it to a maximum of 369 words (excluding title).
Add your contribution to Mister Linky, and we'd love it if you could link back to this post from your blog. Have fun seeing what others come up with! I look forward to reading you all. If you care to leave any comments here about Cecil Day Lewis's poem (or anything else) I'd love to read those too.
Apologies to those (few, we hope) who saw this post ahead of time and then had it disappear on them! The new Blogger became a bit confusing about times, having now decided to start suddenly showing me my own time zone rather than the New York time our group blog is set to. Having finally figured that out, in future I won't panic and try to change it!
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