The Pagan

So here are you, and here am I,
Where we may thank our gods to be,
Above the earth, beneath the sky,
Naked souls, alive and free.
The autumn wind goes rustling by
And stirs the stubble round our feet;
Out of the west it whispering blows,
Stops to caress and onward goes,
Bringing its earthy odours sweet.
See with what pride the setting sun
Kinglike in gold and purple dies.
And like a robe of rainbow spun
Tinges the earth with shades divine.
That mystic light is in your eyes
And ever in your heart will shine.

This poem, addressed to Orwell’s friend Jacintha Buddicom, refers to a disagreement between the Oxford High School authorities and the Buddicoms over their agnosticism.

Jacintha suggested substituting ‘naked souls’ with ‘unarmoured’.

Orwell himself inserted the line ‘Stops to caress and onward goes’ before ‘Bringing its earthy odours sweet’, having initially written it after that line.