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. 15, No. 6. April 24, 1952

Verse — Family Album


Family Album

My grandfather, whose name is myth,
the famous uncle and my five-hundred sires
look out of mirrors, fancies, twilight
and family albums—their desires

in me writ large and underlined.
At nights I take my history by the hand
and find among the headstones the maligned
heart has an epitaph time will understand.

Brothers' brothers and fathers stand before
the walking portals of our waking fear
each passes bearing death, trying to wear
superior smiles or silence. Time will stare

back on our clan with same amaze
in a later eye like mine now, knowing
his history headstones and the grave's
grin like a dream through conscience dawning.

Each, I imagine, though his time
all and everlasting; coughed and wore
the tissue from his smile; the lime
of love calcified upon each lantern-jaw.

Fat men and thin exhort me to be gay—
a war's deserter, and a gallant blade
struts with a benediction on his way
clubwards to meet his heartiest word's applaud.

Some shrink from crowds and others melt
in tears: but sinister, all faces here remind
five-hundred times the joys they have not felt
and bitter genius of the final bond.

My grandfather, whose name is death,
glowers from his past and curls a crooked lip;
requires a penalty of my glowing breath—
to cloud on every window he let slip.

Louis Johnson portrait

Louis Johnson, a regular contributor to Salient, author of controversial (?) "Roughshod Among the Lilies" and "The Sun Among the Ruins."