It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day -
A sunny day with the 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 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 parents stem,
Has something I never quite gasp 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