cecil-day-lewis

5

A Room with a View (1985) dir. James Ivory

“And as for your loving me, no, you don’t, Cecil, not really. You don’t. It’s only as something else. As something you own. A painting, a Leonardo. I don’t want to be a Leonardo, I want to be myself.”

The Christmas Tree - Cecil Day-Lewis

Put out the lights now!
Look at the Tree, the rough tree dazzled
In oriole plumes of flame,
Tinselled with twinkling frost fire, tasselled
With stars and moons—the same
That yesterday hid in the spinney and had no fame
Till we put out the lights now.

Hard are the nights now:
The fields at moonrise turn to agate,
Shadows are cold as jet;
In dyke and furrow, in copse and faggot
The frost’s tooth is set;
And stars are the sparks whirled out by the north wind’s fret
On the flinty nights now.

So feast your eyes now
On mimic star and moon-cold bauble;
Worlds may wither unseen,
But the Christmas Tree is a tree of fable,
A phoenix in evergreen,
And the world cannot change or chill what its mysteries mean
To your hearts and eyes now.

The vision dies now
Candle by candle: the tree that embraced it
Returns to its own kind,
To be earthed again and weather as best it
May the frost and the wind.
Children, it too had its hour—you will not mind
If it lives or dies now.

His fame was posthumous – he had only four poems published in his lifetime. The bulk of his best work was written or finished during a period of intense creative activity, from August 1917 (in one week of October he wrote six poems) to September 1918 – a period comparable with the annus mirabilis of his admired Keats. The originality and force of their language, the passionate nature of the indignation and pity they express, their blending of harsh realism with a sensuousness unatrophied by the horrors from which they flowered, all these make me feel that Owen’s war poems are mature poetry, and that in the best of them – as in a few which he wrote on other subjects – he showed himself a major poet.
—  Cecil Day Lewis on Wilfred Owen