The Reader Podcast

Episode Six: Stories of Walking Away

July 8, 2021

What makes a poem great for Shared Reading? Again, we take a closer look at a single poem, this time Cecil Day Lewis’ ‘Walking Away’, and hear stories about how it what this poem has meant to group members who have read it together in a Shared Reading setting. 


Walking Away 

By Cecil Day-Lewis 


For Sean 


It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day – 

A sunny day with the 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. 


The 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. 



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Find out more about Cecil Day Lewis at the Poetry Foundation 


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