Cecil Day Lewis

Anglo-Irish poet (1904-1972)
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Cecil Day Lewis, CBE (27 April 190422 May 1972) was an Irish poet, the British Poet Laureate between 1968 to 1972, and, under the pseudonym of Nicholas Blake, a mystery writer. He was the father of the actor Daniel Day-Lewis and the TYV star Tamasin Day-Lewis.

A portrait of Cecil Day-Lewis by Sir William Rothenstein.

Quotes edit

Tempt me no more, for I
Have known the lightning's hour,
The poet's inward pride,
The certainty of power.
Shall I be gone long?
For ever and a day
To whom there belong?
Ask the stone to say
Ask my song

Tempt Me No More (1933) edit

From Feathers to Iron (1935) edit

  • Do not expect again the phoenix hour,
    The triple-towered sky, the dove's complaining,
    Sudden the rain of gold and heart's first ease
    Traced under trees by the eldritch light of sundown.

Thou Shell of Death (1936) edit

Using the pseudonym Nicholas Blake
  • Nigel's six feet sprawled all over the place; his gestures were nervous and little uncouth; a lock of sandy coloured hair dropping over his forehead, and the deceptive naïveté of his face in repose gave him a resemblance to an overgrown prep. schoolboy. His eyes were the same blue as his uncle's, but shortsighted and noncommittal. Yet there was an underlying similarity between the two. A latent, sardonic humor in their conversation, a friendliness and simple generosity in their smiles, and that impression of energy in reserve which is always given by those who possess an abundance of life directed towards consciously-realised aims.

Where are the War Poets? (1943) edit

  • It is the logic of our times,
    No subject for immortal verse—
    That we who lived by honest dreams
    Defend the bad against the worse.

Birthday Poem for Thomas Hardy (1949) edit

The judgment of Peers : An Anthology of Poems about Poets (1949), p. 61iss
  • Is it birthday weather for you, dear soul?
    Is it fine your way
  • It's hard to believe a spirit could die
    Of such generous glow

The Christmas Tree (1953) edit

The Apollo Anthology (1953) edited by Lucy Selwyn and Laurier Lister, p. 105
  • 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
  • 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

Is it far to go? (1963) edit

"Is it far to go?" in Modern English poetry (1963) edited by N. Das Gupta, Vol. 2, p. 92
  • Shall I be gone long?
    For ever and a day
    To whom there belong?
    Ask the stone to say
    Ask my song.
  • Who will say farewell?
    The beating bell.
    Will anyone miss me?
    That I dare not tell —
    Quick, Rose, and kiss me.

Requiem for the Living (1964) edit

  • I have had worse partings, but none that so
    Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
    Saying what God alone could perfectly show —
    How selfhood begins with a walking away,
    And love is proved in the letting go.
    • "Walking Away" (1962), p. 33

Quotes about Cecil Day Lewis edit

  • "The image," says C. Day Lewis in The Poetic Image, "is a method of asserting or reasserting spiritual control over the material." And he makes a very suggestive definition of what the critics have called "pure poetry" as "poetry whose meaning is deliberately concentrated within its images."

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