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A Privileged Moment

Cecil Day-Lewis

Released from hospital, only half alive still,

Cautiously feeling the way back into himself, 

Propped up in bed like a guy, he presently ventured

Aglance at the ornaments on his mantelshelf.


White, Wedgwood blue, dark lilac coloured or ruby—

Things, you could say, which had known their place and price, 

Gleamed out at him with the urgency of angels

Eager for him to see through their disguise.


Slowly he turned his head. By gust-flung snatches 

A shower announced itself on the windowpane: 

He saw unquestioning, not even astonished,

Handfuls of diamonds sprung from a dazzling chain.


Gently at last the angels settled back now 

Into mere ornaments, the unearthly sheen 

And spill of diamond into familiar raindrops, 

It was enough. He'd seen what he had seen.


From The Poetry Review Vol 59 No 4 (Winter 1968/9).

From The Whispering Roots by C Day Lewis, reprinted by permission of Peters Fraser & Dunlop on behalf of the Estate of C Day Lewis.