Award yourself a minute’s break to read this poem aloud, and enjoy the soft sounds evoking tenderness. I imagine the speaker beginning deep down in his ‘unfathom’d ocean of the past’, and rising up through time, through memory, in each stanza until, in the final few lines, he surfaces in the present moment. The repetition of ‘because we love thee’ seems to root the poem in an act of quiet meditation.


Sarah, Picador poetry editor

Fain Would I Dive

Fain would I dive to find my infant self
In the unfathom’d ocean of the past:
I can but find a sun-burnt prattling elf,
A forward urchin of four years at least.

The prettiest speech – ’tis in my mind engrain’d-
That first awaked me from my babyhood,
Twas a grave saw affectionately feign’d-
‘We’ll love you little master, – if you’re good.’

Sweet babe thou art not yet or good or bad,
Yet God is round thee, in thee, and above thee;
We love, because we love thee, little lad,
And pray thou may’st be good – because we love thee.

The Picador Book of Birth Poems 'Fain Would I Dive' is published in The Picador Book of Birth Poems edited by Kate Clanchy

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