Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 6. June 3rd, 1948

Madonna and Child

Madonna and Child

It is of no importance whether Mary lived
Swarthy against the Palestinian glare
Or plumply fair upon a chess-board floor;
It is of no importance whether Mary lived
Oozing tempered affection upon the sanctified brat
And rising with the reflected glory
And the heart-shakings and the hand-wringings
To a place above Astarte, Isis, her sister selves,
A myth within a myth wrapped in a myth,
An added barrier between this self and understanding.
It is of no importance whether Mary lived.
But it is important
That she personifies all mothers
Breeding their sons to political catastrophe, personal disaster,
And themselves bred
Bred to the small-talk and the chit-chat
Leaning over the teacups,
Pastiche and lace in Kelburn,
Rouged to the memory in a basement flat in Holloway,
Sink and washtub grovelling amongst the napkins.
Patches, patterns, reiterated recipes, dilute sensations,
And the ends that never meet in Aro Stret. At St. Paul's
Genuflecting; sublimating at Buckingham;
Escaping at Hollywood (laudanum by Schiaparelli).

Consider the son;
Remove the glittering halo and ignore
The pretended parentage; discard the borrowed rituals,
The dying god, the eaten god, the god rising with the sap;
His stripped thoughts have appeared before and since
In many climes and seasons wrecking the mask—
Gautama, Confucius, Socrates, Krishnamurti—
Know yourself and live. But we
Prefer the anodyne. Consider well,
The generations rank in infinite regress
But the old stupidities remain. We would, rather
Shatter than understand, worship than reason;
See how the aged instincts guard our days.

But we,
Running on stainless alloys with a trillion candle-power
Super-fluorescent beacon beckoning past cyclotron,
Past electron micro-camera, past a hundred million volts
To atom smash-dashing, lost in a whirl of grab-or-bust.

Perceive nothing, sense nothing, know nothing,
And hurtling down into the red-soaked earth,
Urged on by flag and slogan,
Murder in love, annihilate in duty
To propitiate our hybrid sanguinary god
And place a plastic egg-beater in every housewife's hand.

—Bruce McLeod.