C. Day-Lewis, in this poem reflects on the experience of letting his son, Sean, grow up and leave home.
It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away
Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.
That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I never quite grasp to convey
About nature’s give-and-take – the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay.
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.
Have you had to let an adult child go, or have you been that child, leaving home for the first time?
What did it feel like? Were you prepared for it?
Some Biblical scholars see the story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit and being expelled from Eden not as a "Fall" - a disaster which could have been prevented - but as a symbol of the inevitable moment when we exercise the human freedom which is God's gift to us. We may get things wrong as we do so, and it can feel as if we have lost the "paradise" of the time when all our decisions were made for us, but perhaps life is richer and better because we have to leave Eden and discover the world for ourselves. What do you think?