For You My Father (1965)


I would rest more easily now, my father,
had you fallen where others fell
among the dust and blood of war
and I could proudly cry that you were lost
in vacant landscapes, violent with glory,
and find your name gilt lettered on a marble tear.

But these vacant years are blackened where you passed
untraced, and the seed you hotly planted
grows lonely in the ruins of your passage,
and when the sunlight glows beyond the dawn
waking the colours of the waiting day,
I am left groping by the shadowed wall.

You have not looked back, my father,
in twenty years of ignorance and stone,
and have not cared to see the blossom yet,
where all the years of growing passed unshared.
You lacked the courage to return or help …
and yet you found the strength to turn your back.

I pray the fading pathways that you ran
have led you to a fertile greener land
where you have found another spring,
there in some corner to rebuild your pride
and so outrun this easy shame;
I pray that you have grown as old as I.

If you have not looked back, my father,
nor walked where I could see you pass
beyond the image of my dreams,
I would neither blame you, nor forget you,
nor dare to seek you in these ripening years
for you are my father, and perhaps I too … your kind.


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