Friday, 9 September 2011
For a Baby Son
A poem today for our new baby, a second son born on Tuesday evening. In the blissed-out non-routined strangeness of these first days back at home (thank goodness for Paternity Leave) and while mother and baby sleep I've been flicking through the old Faber anthology The Naked Astronaut: Poems on Births and Birthdays.
So few of the poems capture anything of the unparalleled intensity and rawness of childbirth; most are by male poets elaborating their own thoughts and feelings after the event - understandable, of course, since the experience is so overwhelming,although the degree to which major figures like Yeats and Lowell seem wrapped up in themselves and their own poetic processes is dismaying.There is rarely much focus on what the woman has gone through or indeed the infant; indeed there are only a few pieces by female poets, which in an anthology about births seems ridiculous.
I've chosen a passage from Sylvia Plath's beautiful stark 'Three Women' - our baby was a little bluish and white with vernix when he emerged, giving him a slightly alien appearance, so it seems to fit:
"Who is he ,this blue, furious boy,
Shiny and strange, as if he had hurtled from a star?
He is looking so angrily!
He flew into the room, a shriek at his heel.
The blue colour pales. He is human after all.
The red lotus opens in its bowl of blood;
They are stitiching me up with silk, as if I were a material.
What did my fingers do before they held him?
What did my heart do, with its love?
I have never seen a thing so clear.
His lids are like the lilac-flower
And soft as a moth, his breath.
I shall not let him go.
There is no guile or warp in him. May he keep so."