November 19, 2003

When death was taking the air outside...

IN THE SHELTER
In a shelter one night, when death was taking the air
Outside, I saw her, seated apart�a child
Nursing her doll to one man's vision enisled
With radiance which might have shamed even death to its lair.

Then I thought of our Christmas roses at home�the dark
Lanterns comforting us a winter through
With the same dusky flush, the same bold spark
Of confidence, O sheltering child, as you.

Genius could never paint the maternal pose
More deftly than accident had roughed it there,
Setting amidst our terrors, against the glare
Of unshaded bulbs and whitewashed brick, that rose.

Instinct was hers, and an earthquake hour revealed it
In flesh�the meek-laid lashes, the glint in the eye
Defying wrath and reason, the arms that shielded
A plaster doll from an erupting sky.

No argument for living could long sustain
These ills: it needs a faithful eye, to have seen all
Love in the droop of a lash and tell it eternal
By one pure bead of its dew-dissolving chain.

Dear sheltering child, if again misgivings grieve me
That love is only a respite, an opal bloom
Upon our snow-set fields, come back to revive me
Cradling your spark through blizzard, drift and tomb.

-- C. Day Lewis


The Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) is an English plant that can bloom in the darkest months of the year...

Posted by John Weidner at November 19, 2003 7:30 PM
Weblog by John Weidner