(for Nathaniel)

This poem was written last November shortly after the birth of my third grandchild, a second grandson, and the first child of my son and his wife. I put it away for a while to ‘rest’, because I felt it wasn’t quite there; that it still needed something to make it work. Three months later, following several edits and adjustments, whilst it is perhaps less like poetry and more a narrative, (and was it Leonardo da Vinci himself who said that a work of art is never complete, only abandoned?) I have decided that I should let it go. I hope my grandson, when he’s old enough, all my grandchildren and onward generations, may find some use or ornament for it, to give them perspective on their own situations, whatever they may be, and to help guide them in their journeys through life …

The countryside was flush with gold
to celebrate your arrival; the season
was in suspense, as if to make
your first tiny footprint on the earth,
amidst the clamour of a thousand nativities,
as if a gift of God for this, your birth,
a special and harmonious event.

At the cusp, where Autumn meets with Winter,
a splash of golden hair defined you;
the gilding of a perfect crown,
was like the golden fleece,
that vaunted prize of Ancient Greece
in Jason’s time, when boys grew into men
before the age of their true making.

Your first year, centenary of a date
when Europe burned with anticipation
of conflict, a bloody affair, for which
no true atonement was ever offered,
for which we feel a great collective guilt
but which, we hope, will remain
a part of history. Not your future.

Your future shall be focused,
neither on the clock that ticks,
that divides time into segments of life;
that numbs the mind with endless drudge;
that defines your living to the end;
nor shall it confine your path
to the relentless quest for gain.

It is not control that you shall seek,
but access to a pantheistic knowledge,
enabling a different class of power,
the faculty for influence over those,
who misused the privilege they have,
that we, your forebears, allowed them.
For this I repentantly apologise.

If nature no longer holds its strength to live,
to refresh itself, to recover its flush and thrive,
it will be human beings, who prevailed
on its demise, for which there’s no excuse.
Beyond mere human frailty, there seems no will
to cease remorseless greed and just survive.
But the Earth owes us a big fat nothing!

So, if my undoubted compassion
does not have wings; if I do not transform
my rising anger into constructive deeds,
in such a way to help move hearts and minds
in concert, so to invest in change;
if thus, and I’m too frail or weak,
remorse will overcome my heart.

But have I yielded to our defeat?
No. I’ll neither submit to this old foe
nor will my pen cease in my hand,
whilst ever I have breath and mind
to speak out from the crowd. I find
it sad to say that much is left to do,
which leaves an adverse legacy for you.

What do I expect of you, or you of you?
I know that I can ask, but cannot make;
I know you’re blessed with your own will,
but you will find that one thing will prevail:
the greatest force for life is family;
a force defying selfishness and greed,
which always gives us hope in time of need.

It shall be fuel that fills you, every day,
from your Stabat Mater, your Trojan Father,
whose care and energy will long endure,
imbuing you with superhuman strength,
for which there is no substitute;
that no amount of gold will ever buy.
Integrity and truth is born of this.

There is one thing I know will light your way,
’till time and tides are done and trees are gone.
This energy and fortitude, integrity
and strong desire, will all be borne
to you and, through you, to your children;
and so, through them, ancestral grace
will lead them to conquer the World!

It is the one enduring human quality
that is, more than mere emotion,
the omniscient and greatest power of all;
one word, one gift, which represents
life’s longing for itself, from me to you,
a kind of magic that will heal the World
… with pure, undying, unconditional Love.

© 2013 John Anstie

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