Walking Away

by Rod Smith

“I have had worse partings,” writes Irish poet Cecil Day-Lewis in “Walking Away.” 

“Like a satellite wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away,” writes Lewis, having watched his son, “a hesitant figure, eddying away like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem.” 

Lewis, observing from a distance, sees the boy disappear into a mass of boys each beginning his new phase of life at boarding school. 

Lewis knows the inevitable separation necessary for his son’s selfhood, independence, then, interdependence but it nonetheless “gnaws” at his soul. 

The poet accepts the process of “nature’s give and take.”

I have held onto these words for decades, tried, for much longer, to live within the idea that everything that is living requires space. Everything living desires room to grow, room to be free, openness to leave the nest, and access to a “nest” willing to accept the ebbs and flows of life and growth.  

Now that my sons are both young adults I read Lewis’s closing lines – in fact the whole poem – vastly differently than I did before. 

I have had front row seats, watched two boys learn to crawl, then walk, then run towards manhood. 

“Selfhood begins with walking away and love is proved in letting go,” concludes Lewis.

One Comment to “Walking Away”

  1. Rod,

    I read the poem, having not been familiar with it. What a heartwarming read for a parents heart.

    Thank you so much for this column

    Lisa

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