Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SITTING, by CECIL DAY LEWIS



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THE SITTING, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: So like a god I sit here
Last Line: And know not it ends in you.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blake, Nicolas
Subject(s): Paintings & Painters


For Laurence Gowing

So like a god I sit here,
One of those stone dreamers quarried from solitude,
A genius -- if ever there was one -- of the place:
The mountain's only child, lips aloof as a snow line,
Forearms impassive along the cloud-base of aeons,
Eyes heavy on distance --
Graven eyes that flinch not, flash not, if eagles
Clap their wings in my face.

With hieratic gestures
He the suppliant, priest, interpreter, subtly
Wooing my virtue, officiates by the throne.
I know the curious hands are shaping, reshaping the
image
Of what is only an image of things impalpable.
I feel how the eyes strain
To catch a truth behind the oracular presence --
Eyes that augur through stone.

And the god asks, 'What have I for you
But the lichenous shadow of thought veiling my
temple,
The runnels a million time-drops have chased on my
cheek?'
And the man replies, 'I will show you the creed of
your bone, I'll draw you
The shape of solitude to which you were born.'
And the god cries, 'I am meek,
Brushed by an eagle's wind; and a voice bids me
Speak. But I cannot speak.'

The god thinks, Let him project, if
He must, his passionate shapings on my stone heart,
Wrestle over my body with his sprite,
Through these blind eyes imagine a skin-deep world
in perspective:
Let him make, if he will, the crypt of my holy
mountain
His own: let even the light
That bathes my temple become as it were an active
Property of his sight.

O man, O innocent artist
Who paint me with green of your fields, with
amber or yellow
Of love's hair, red of the heart's blood, eyebright
blue,
Conjuring forms and rainbows out of an empty mist --
Your hand is upon me, as even now you follow
Up the immortal clue
Threading my veins of emerald, topaz, amethyst,
And know not it ends in you.




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