Muir Holburn - Selected Poems

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How often, when I seek a silent place

And fill a pen to write

Responsive to the bright

Hard call of a new image, line of song,

Or to an inward tune or moment of high grace,

Another voice, and equally as strong,

Assails me, and a child

Cries to me sweet and wild.

My child! whose voice deplores

The arrogant cold logic of closed doors.


He cries: “How soon, how soon shall I be gone:

Grown up from boy to man. Then you’ll have time to baulk;

Poetise in quiet places . . . bellyache upon

The days when I, small and noisy, called you out to talk!


“But right in the here and now I’m noisy and small . . .

The world is huge, and I have much to learn.

I need your words in answer to my call;

I need the fuel of your love to make me burn!”


It is an irony: I flee to write

Poems aflame with love and hope and youth,

With gentleness and justice and the light.

Yet lips unskilled shall speak a greater truth:


“O, if you love now and mend my toys,

Maybe your precious songs shall have to wait.

Out of my childhood you may yet create

Poems of some worth . . . but better are living boys!”


My dearest lad, the fathering heart is frail.

And neither song nor son he dares to lose.

So, in a world where many ills prevail,

Build him another . . . where he need not choose!







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