A Poem by Cecil Day Lewis on His Birthday

Cecil Day Lewis born on April 27, 1904 in Ballintubbert, Ireland; British poet who was UK Poet Laureate from 1968 until his death in 1972. His mother died when he was two years old, and he was brought up in London by his father and an aunt. During WWII, he worked as a publications editor in the Ministry of Information, an institution satirized by George Orwell in his dystopian Nineteen Eighty-Four,  although the book was equally based on Orwell’s experiences at the BBC.  After the war, Day-Lewis became a lecturer at Cambridge University, and published his lectures in The Poetic Image in 1947. He was Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1951 to 1956, and the Norton Professor at Harvard (1962-1963). He published a dozen collections of poetry, four collections of essays, translations of Virgil, and a number of novels, including a private detective mystery series under the pen name Nicolas Blake. Day Lewis died at age 68 from pancreatic cancer in May 1972.  Daniel Day-Lewis is his son.

To read “A Hard Frost” by Cecil Day Lewis click:

A Hard Frost

by Cecil Day Lewis

A frost came in the night and stole my world
And left this changeling for it – a precocious
Image of spring, too brilliant to be true:
White lilac on the window-pane, each grass-blade
Furred like a catkin, maydrift loading the hedge.
The elms behind the house are elms no longer
But blossomers in crystal, stems of the mist
That hangs yet in the valley below, amorphous
As the blind tissue whence creation formed.

The sun looks out and the fields blaze with diamonds
Mockery spring, to lend this bridal gear
For a few hours to a raw country maid,
Then leave her all disconsolate with old fairings
Of aconite and snowdrop! No, not here
Amid this flounce and filigree of death
Is the real transformation scene in progress,
But deep below where frost
Worrying the stiff clods unclenches their
Grip on the seed and lets
the future breathe.

“A Hard Frost” from The Complete Poems of C. Day Lewis, Stanford University Press 1996 edition

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Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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