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Williams poem donated

09 August 2013


The former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has fulfilled a commission to write a poem (reproduced, below) for the "fleshandblood" campaign, which highlights a need for more blood- and organ-donors ( News, 5 July; Comment,5 April).

A video on the organisation's website shows Dr Williams reciting the poem, "Host Organism", in the Master's Garden at Magdalene College, Cambridge. In a separate statement, he describes how he approached the subject: "I began with two basic pictures: something being implanted and something breaking through what feels like stasis or deadlock. . . But essentially it's a poem about hope, and about the sort of providential accident of one life being planted in another and making new things possible."


Host organism

I have been living
under the layers
of grain and moisture,
earth in my nostrils
and the years ahead
sitting like hard
pebbles in my gut,
and the hands that get
to sift the slack
grit, while I sleep
fearfully through hours
of gardening labours,
pull themselves clear
and scrape nails clean
so that I feel the pricking
of green points that seek
pathways and waking
and tomorrow's work,
pushing out of the seed
dropped by some unnamed bird.

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