Rodez

By Donald Davie 1922–1995 Donald Davie
Northward I came, and knocked in the coated wall
At the door of a low inn scaled like a urinal
With greenish tiles. The door gave, and I came
 
Home to the stone north, every wynd and snicket
Known to me wherever the flattened cat
Squirmed home to a hole between housewall and paving.
 
Known! And in the turns of it, no welcome,
No flattery of the beckoned lighted eye
From a Rose of the rose-brick alleys of Toulouse.
 
Those more than tinsel garlands, more than masks,
Unfading wreaths of ancient summers, I
Sternly cast off. A stern eye is the graceless
 
Bulk and bruise that at the steep uphill
Confronts me with its drained-of-colour sandstone
Implacably. The Church. It is Good Friday.
 
Goodbye to the Middle Ages! Although some
Think that I enter them, those centuries
Of monkish superstition, here I leave them
 
With their true garlands, and their honest masks,
Every fresh flower cast on the porch and trodden,
Raked by the wind at the Church door on this Friday.
 
Goodbye to all the centuries. There is
No home in them, much as the dip and turn
Of an honest alley charmingly deceive us.
 
And not yet quite goodbye. Instead almost
Welcome, I said. Bleak equal centuries
Crowded the porch to be deflowered, crowned.

Donald Davie, "Rodez" from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1985 by Donald Davie.  Reprinted by permission of Carcanet Press, Ltd.

Source: Selected Poems (Carcanet Press Ltd, 1985)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Donald Davie 1922–1995

Subjects Activities, Travels & Journeys, Arts & Sciences, Architecture & Design, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, History & Politics

Biography

Donald Davie was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, to George Clarke and Alice Sugden Davie, received his early education at Barnsley Holgate Grammar School, and spent his boyhood in “the industrially ravaged landscape,” as he called it, of the West Riding. As a Northerner, he has said that in literature he grew to like “the spare and lean.” From his mother, who had a liking for poetry and knew, according to Davie, “the greater part, . . .

Continue reading this biography

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.