When Your Pop Is The Poet Laureate Of England...

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Posted by Doc M on October 25, 2000 at 09:32:56:

...this is what you get as a birthday present! Sometime a month
or so ago, a few of you asked for the poem Cecil Day Lewis
wrote upon the birth of his son, the Big D. I finally found
in a large pile of books that I really must do something
about one of these days. Here it is.

The Newborn

This mannikin who just now
Broke prison and stepped free
Into his own identity--
Hand, foot, and brow
A finished work, a breathing miniature--
Was still, one night ago,
A hope, a dread, a mere shape we
Had lived with, only sure
Something would grow
Out of its coiled nine-month nonentity.

Heaved hither on quickening throes,
Tossed up on earth today,
He sprawls limp as a castaway
And nothing knows
Beside the warm sleep of his origin.
Soon lips and hands shall grope
To try the world; this speck of clay
And spirit shall begin
To feed on hope,
To learn how truth blows cold and loves betray.

Now like a blank sheet
His lineaments appear;
But there's invisible writing here
Which the day's heat
Will show; legends older than language, glum
Histories of the tribe,
Directives from his near and dear--
Charms, curses, rules of thumb --
He will transcribe
In his own blood, to write upon an heir.

This morsel of man I've held--
What potency it has,
Though strengthless still and naked as
A nut unshelled!
Every newborn seems a reviving seed
Or metaphor of the divine.
Charged with the huge, weak power of grass
To split rock. How we need
Any least sign
That our stone age can break, our winter pass!

Welcome to earth, my child!
Joybells of blossom swing,
Lambs and lovers have their fling,
The streets run wild
With April airs and rumours of the sun.
We time-worn folk renew
Ourselves at your enchanted spring,
As though mankind's begun
Again in you.
This is your birthday and our thanksgiving.

From Pegasus and Other Poems by C. Day Lewis

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