new zealand electronic poetry centre


Kendrick Smithyman

online works

Imperial Vistas

Blessed may be the meek knowing they shall
not inherit their earth
                              from Grandmother,
from Grandfather, who are not in Heaven as 
yet. Only, close to it, Thy Will be done will
be done
              Father was very (was too?) small to
remember Victoria at (probably) Windsor
where his grandaddy sometimes preached.
Boys of Eton might be on hand to cheer,
the local townsfolk anyway you could rely
on. And trippers - you ought to be able to count
on them. The East End was always, 
                                                       you know,
but among them a kid about my father's size
who did not make his signal. The carriage
stopped, someone flung himself down
suitably to chatise. Respect, that's what
has to be learned. Respect. Learn early,
learn it long, your legacy.

                  At Pretoria, after the Raid,
before the big shootup started
young Father was with his cobber Frikkie,
supposedly Oom Paul's favourite
grandson, a bad boy. Over the road from
the Dopper church, Mrs Kruger sold milk 
to her neighbours; she was a simple frugal soul.
In the milkwhite highveld night
Father and Frikkie approached, that night of sort
with Oliver Schreiner's when 'frank and unreserved
confession will obviate the necessity
of chastisement' perhaps. House people came
to the stoep. Grandfather sat
in the brilliant moonlight with his Bible,
his churchwarden pipe. Whatever
was he reading should bear on the case?
A Kaffir offended: "Take him round
the back, sjambok him," and back
to the Book. Thy Will be 
                                       done will be done



Last updated 12 December, 2002