James Phillip McAuley
My father and my mother never quarrelled.
They were united in a kind of love
As daily as the Sydney Morning Herald,
Rather than like the eagle or the dove.
I never saw them casually touch,
Or show a moment’s joy in one another.
Why should this matter to me now so much?
I think it bore more hardly on my mother,
Who had more generous feelings to express.
My father had dammed up his Irish blood
Against all drinking praying fecklessness,
And stiffened into stone and creaking wood.
His lips would make a switching sound, as though
Spontaneous impulse must be kept at bay.
That it was mainly weakness I see now,
But then my feelings curled back in dismay.
Small things can pit the memory like a cyst:
Having seen other fathers greet their sons,
I put my childish face up to be kissed
After an absence. The rebuff still stuns
My blood. The poor man’s curt embarrassment
At such a delicate proffer of affection
Cut like a saw. But home the lesson went:
My tenderness thenceforth escaped detection.
My mother sang Because, and Annie Laurie,
White Wings, and other songs; her voice was sweet.
I never gave enough, and I am sorry;
But we were all closed in the same defeat.
People do what they can; they were good people,
They cared for us and loved us. Once they stood
Tall in my childhood as the school, the steeple.
How can I judge without ingratitude?
Judgment is simply trying to reject
A part of what we are because it hurts.
The living cannot call the dead collect:
They won’t accept the charge, and it reverts.
It’s my own judgment day that I draw near,
Descending in the past, without a clue,
Down to that central deadness: the despair
Older than any hope I ever knew.
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Because by James Phillip McAuley )
Poem of the Day
- I Remember, I Remember, Thomas Hood
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Warning, Jenny Joseph
- On the Ning Nang Nong, Spike Milligan
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- A Thought, Robert Louis Stevenson
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- First Day at School, Roger McGough
- If, Rudyard Kipling
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990)
(24 January 1572 - 31 March 1631)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
(16 April 1918 – 27 February 2002)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
Edna St. Vincent Millay
(22 February 1892 – 19 October 1950)
(1886 - 1967)
(November 9 - 1937)