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Personal Choice 77

On the Birth of a Son

for Andrew

The day the boy was born, the wall fell down

That flanks our garden. There’s an espaliered pear,

And then the wall I laboured with such care

Such sweat and foresight, locking stone with stone,

To build. Well, it’s just a wall, but it’s my own,

I built it. Sitting in a garden chair

With flowers against the wall, it’s good to stare

Inwards. But now some freak of wind has blown

and tumbled it across the lawn – a sign

Perhaps. Indeed, when I first saw the boy,

I thought, he’s humble now, but wait a few

Years and we’ll see! - out following a line

Not of our choice at all. And then with joy

I looked beyond the stones and saw the view.

David Campbell

David Campbell (1915 – 1979) was an Australian poet who wrote over 15 volumes of prose and poetry. He was also a talented rugby union player who represented England in two tests.

What a superb extended metaphor Campbell uses with such wonderful effect to announce the birth of his son. The birth of David my own son echoes for me so marvellously in that first line and how perceptive has the poet been when as the years have passed, I looked beyond the stones and saw the view. In an addition a perfect Petrarchan sonnet!


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