Today's poem is by Anthony Thwaite


My father traced our ancestors for years
Through parish registers and censuses and wills,
Took photographs of gravestones, learned to read
Crabbed secretary hand, transcribe each thing
From inventories, distinguishing in red
The illegitimate from children born
In wedlock, puzzling out the muddled names
Vergers misheard as year succeeded year
And the meshed generation spun like spiderwebs.

My father died thirty-one years ago.
Up in the attic, stacked in musty boxes, sit
His precious notebooks, genealogies,
Family trees, even a coat-of-arms
He asked a Herald to construct to show
That we were once armigerous — how vain
In every sense... Now, in my eightieth year,
The whole accumulation weighs me down.
I have no time now for my ancestors.

Copyright © 2011 Anthony Thwaite All rights reserved
from Late Poems
Enitharmon Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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