Friday, July 31, 2009

The Fear of Change, a poem by James Baxter.

When he was eleven years old, New Zealander James Keir Baxter wrote the following inscription with a rooster quill on the first page of a new notebook:

Book 1
Original Poetry
J. K. Baxter
Born 29th June 1926
Will die when he and nature sees fit.

For the rest of his life Baxter remained faithful to his vocation and wrote more than 2600 poems. He died in Auckland at the age of 46 in 1972. In the last four years of his life, he worked to alleviate the condition of drug-addicts, alcoholics, the homeless, the unemployed and the native Maori people. He said he was was "steadily dying in the comfort of home, smoking cigars and watching television" ... while there existed "an obvious need for some of the people getting pulled to pieces in the towns to have a sanctuary..." Baxter believed that "one of the great crimes of society is to be poor" and as a consequence, he took the idea of Personal Social Responsibility very seriously.

The Fear of Change by James Baxter.

If you and I were woken suddenly
By the drums of Revolution in the street -
Or suppose the door shot open, and there stood
Upright and singing a young bullfighter

With a skin of rough wine, offering to each of us
Death, sex, hope - or even just an
Earthquake, making the trees thrash, the roofs tumble,
Calling us loudly to consider God -

Let us admit, with no shame whatever,
We are not that kind of people;
We have learned to weigh each word like an ounce of butter;
Our talent is for anger and monotony -

Therefore we will survive the singers,
The fighters, the so-called lovers - we will bury them
Regretfully, and spend a whole wet Sunday
Arguing whether the corpses were dressed in black or red.


Unknown said...

Very interesting find! Good one!


john cotter said...

Thank you, Bueller