The Fathers

by Edwin Muir

Our fathers all were poor,

Poorer our fathers’ fathers;

Beyond we dare not look.

We, the sons, keep store

Of tarnished gold that gathers

Around us from the night,

Record it in this book

That, when the line is drawn,

Credit and creditor gone,

Column and figure flown,

Will open into light.

Archaic fevers shake

Our healthy flesh and blood

Plumped in the passing day

And fed with pleasant food.

The fathers’ anger and ache

Will not, will not away

And leave the living alone

But on our careless brows

Faintly their furrows engrave

Like veinings in a stone,

Breathe in the sunny house

Nightmares of blackened bone,

Cellar and choking cave.

Panics and furies fly

Through our unhurried veins,

Heavenly lights and rains,

Purify heart and eye,

Past agonies purify

And lay the sullen dust.

The angers will not away.

We hold our fathers’ trust,

Wrong, riches, sorrow and all

Until they topple and fall,

And fallen let in the day.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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