Risorgimento by John Rayner Heppenstall

Not from a new soil
Unchurned by insistent roots,
Not out of any small miraculous seed
Nor plucking timid sustenance with soft fingers in the earth
To be a hieroglyph of growth shown
On fostering air

But like the blessed pilgrim staff
That was dead
And that became alive with many flowers,
Grace in its own hard fibres groping

For emergence is
A deposition of small virginities,
And that obscene virginity
Which squatted on our shoulders like
An old man of the sea with writhing legs
Is clutched and flung down
By hands unhusked.

From: Heppenstall, Rayner, “Risorgimento” in New Verse, Volume 3, 1933, p. 19.

Date: 1933

By: John Rayner Heppenstall (1911-1981)


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