Poem Of The Day #11

The grandpa is the king of his modest castle,
where the mother and the newborn 
come to live after the father dies.
The grandpa is proud of the family longevity--
anybody who dies young is an abnormality and an affront to him.
The mother--his daughter--is treated as an unpromising child.
Her passivity is considered burdensome; 
her activity is treated with suspicion--
is she trying to grab power that will never be granted to her?  

However, the grandpa loves the grandson.
He treats his own sons as slaves, out of habit,
but he looks at his grandson, 
with tears in his cold scrupulous eyes.
He adores the little baby and his own charity--
without him, where would the mother and the child go?

The grandpa and the grandson stage daily performances.
The baby rushes to Grandpa, breathlessly;
Grandpa lifts him up towards the sky proudly.
They misunderstand each other, only to be resolved soon afterwards;
they tease and scold and resent, only to add diversions to their affections;
they pretend there're a lot of secrets between them,
a lot of obstacles to their love that they have to overcome.

Grandpa recounts the middle class version of history--
the past is wicked; the present is all right; the progress has been made.
This is part of the family ceremony, 
as divine as dinner, teeth brushing, health precaution.

They praise each other shamelessly, 
even calling upon people to join their adulation. 
Grandma is slow to respond to their charade,
and is blamed for her inability to comprehend their greatness.

Books are worshiped as religion; libraries as lofty temple.
That's the family lore.
Talent is often mistaken as merit;
fits of anger hide the real timidity of spirit. 

This is the story between Jean-Paul Sartre 
and his grandpa, who teaches him history and literature,
always with the discretion of a careful mind, 
and a limitation of his own academic circle.
I am still reading it and this is the first forty pages of it.

10 thoughts on “Poem Of The Day #11

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