This poem was included with the previous letter, written by my Grandfather, to his sons, scattered around the world, in August, 1943. This is what he had to say in the early part of the letter:
The other day I ran across a poet’s attempt to put on paper what a father feels as he regards his infant son, as I have, in like circumstances, with each of you boys. A copy is enclosed. I can’t say I go along all the way with the author. He’s a bit too gloomy about it and I don’t agree that no one ever has a clear sight of his goal, and may, at rare times, for a few moments at least, reach the heights, but it is enough thought provoking to make it interesting. My own idea is that even if ideals are sometimes uncomfortable bedfellows, they are good to have.
TO MY SON
by John Weaver
Must you frown so?
Must you scowl so bitterly?
Oh, I know.
It’s very strange, after the warm dark silence –
This cold, confused insanity.
But don’t frown.
Nothing lasts forever, be assured.
Only a few years, after all, to be endured;
Then you may go back down
Into the tranquil nothingness.
You have my word.
What can you have heard
While you were where you were?
Did some subtle rumor seep
Into your deep
Calm of non-entity?
Can it be
They have warned you what you may expect?
Did they say how you must grope
With only a hint of what you are groping for?
And fight, and ache, and hope
And only guess what you are hoping for?
Did they say how you will see
Beauty scorned and trampled, and the ugly
Triumph of efficient swine, guzzling smugly?
Oh, it’s all true enough,
You will observe
Senseless tragedy, incomprehensible pain.
And you will find that you cannot do enough,
Try as you may,
To keep your white integrity, from the world’s stain.
And there will be many a tortured night,
When you will stare and stare
At your own flesh, and toss, and fight
The pillow in your agony,
Because you cannot make your dream come right.
(Do not delude yourself, dear boy;
One does not ever make the dream, right.)
But the dream – – follow it!
Never abandon it, though the pursuing take you
Into the mire, into the desert places
Where no help is; into the filth and squalor
Clotted with brutish, empty faces;
Into destruction, death.
Not for a moment will you see it clear.
You must not hope to. It is the chase that matters
Though your flesh become ribbons.
And your spirit tatters.
Follow the dim gleam.
There will be those who will seek to divert
Your eyes from your dream.
Many will plot and scheme
How they may blind you,
How they may blind you.
And there will be a few
Who will endeavor to guard you from all hurt.
Listen to none!
Yourself, you must fight through!
Defiance to the foe, gentleness to the friend,
But in the end
The way of the dream is the lonely way.
They are they.
You are you.
And what can I promise for a reward?
Is there, then, nothing but the hard
With oblivion beyond?
Oh, yes! Along the road that you must go
You will find bits of dream-trail here and there.
Sunsets and golden dawns, and the slow
Drift of the moon, – melodies, and
The softer richness of women’s hair…
And lips that cling and tremble – or hand
Clasping yours firmly, staunchly, joyously…
And there are fragrant souls that hide away.
But maybe glimpsed by one who seeks
Other dream hunters, too…
And the compelling blue
Of the sea – and something that speaks
Out of the earth, in April… and the glow
Of ripened fruits, in Autumn… and the sparkle
Of starlight on the snow… and the crisp patterns
That words can make… and the sweet curves
Of thighs and breasts… and the inscrutable fog,
the gay, devoted banter of a dog.
The bursting green of the grass, after
The pelt of rain… And the brook’s laughter.
But – enough,
Search out your own dream-stuff.
It will guide your stumbling soul
Toward the mist-enshrouded goal.
Set out upon your futile quest.
Chase your dreams, the while you know
You will never grasp it.
Up, then! Go!
Earn your timeless rest….
Must you frown so?
Tomorrow, another letter from Grandpa to his sons, with some very interesting views.