Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

Elizabeth Jennings/The Unknown Child

Elizabeth Jennings - collected

This poem is an old favourite, one I have kept coming back to over the years, both for its meaning and its wonderfully calm and un-ostentatious mastery of language. The blog I posted the other day set me to thinking about it, and I thought it worth the sharing. I’m not sure which of Jenning’s collections it originally appeared in, but it’s included in her Collected Poems (from Carcanet) and also, I believe, the Penguin Book of Women Poets.

The Unknown Child

That child will never lie in me,and you
Will never be its father. Mirrors must
Replace the real image, make it true
So that the gentle love-making we do
Has powerful passion and a parents’ trust.

The child will never lie in me and make
Our loving careful. We must kiss and touch
Quietly, watch our new reflexions break
As in a pool that is disturbed. Oh take
my watchful love; there must not be too much.

A child lies within my mind. I see
The eyelids, the hands. I see you also there.
I see you waiting with an honest care,
Within my mind, within me bodily,
And birth and death close to us constantly.

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This entry was posted on April 7, 2013 by in Books, Childfree, Women and Feminism, Writing and tagged , , , , , , .
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