Homage to Christopher Caudwell

R. F. Willetts

I see a man
Laughing with proud joy
As he puts the knife to the spinning stone
And the stone sings out of its silence.
The sparks leap aloft
In a pelting cascade,
Making light and starting fires.

I see a man
Crouched with knowing eyes
As he sets right a contact of wires
And the engine blurts from its bed.
The plugs crackle on time
With the plunge of the pistons.
There is motion of worlds.

I see a man
Holding a hammer on high
As he seeks the weak rib of the rock
Where the wind and the rain have done their work.
The sure blow bursts
And a fountain falls
On the parched lips of the land.

I see a man
Who was hurt in the growing,
As he quivered and quested and queried,
And answers were problems, solutions did not solve,
The equations were false,
The blueprints produced
No workable shapes.

I see a man
Envying the flight of birds,
As he coupled the curlew’s call and the hawk’s
Poise and the lilting climb of the lark,
Impatient that he had feet
Merely for walking the earth,
Too slow to follow his mind.

I see a man
Who was symbol of his time,
Clamouring with spring in a mist of autumn,
With the sun on his hair in fetters of frost,
Sowing his seed for a harvest
Against all odds of normality,
Forcing weather and soil to his will.

I see a man
Last heard of alive on a hill-crest
In Spain, expecting to die at his gun,
Alone, his youth and work all over,
His stars and planets
Reduced to yards of ground,
Hoping others will harvest his crop.

SOURCE: Willetts, R. F. “Homage to Christopher Caudwell,” Envoi [A Quarterly Review of New Poetry] (Cheltenham, UK), no.15, 1962, pp. 10-11.

Review: Christopher Caudwell, Collected Poems

Christopher Caudwell: Selected Bibliography

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