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Personal Choice 95














Walking Away


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


Cecil Day-Lewis (1904 - 1972), often written as C. Day-Lewis, was an Irish-born, British poet and Poet Laureate from 1968 until his death in 1972. He also wrote mystery stories under the pseudonym of Nicholas Blake. During World War II, Day-Lewis worked as a publication’s editor in the Ministry of Information for the UK government, and also served in the Musbury branch of the British Home Guard. He is the father of actor Sir Daniel Day-Lewis, and documentary filmmaker and television chef Tamasin Day-Lewis.























Day-Lewis’ best poem gnaws at that sometimes-unexpected

moment when we have to let our children walk away.

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