Works in the Herald 1935

"It is all very well for us to criticise the early Victorians," said a preacher recently, "but when we think of what people will think of us in 50 years, it should make us humble."

What will men say of us in fifty years?
   Suppose the world should change and start improving.
Will some grave superman from when he hears
   Of our mad moods, and fall to stern reproving?
Or will our generation mark a "high"
   For men who go on slipping down the ladder
Till their rare seers for our vast culture sigh,
And we're looked back on with a reverent eye
   By submen who have grown a little madder?

What will they think of us?  Will them whose speed
   Outstrips the light, whose knowledge ever waxes
While wisdom wilts, whose wealth grows vast indeed --
   (Perchance to be all grabbed up in taxes) --
Will these speed kings look back with lordly scorn
   Upon this tardy age and heap reproaches
On him who once slowed down and honked his horn,
And, of each hundred meek pedestrians born,
   Slew less than ten beneath his "speeding" coaches?

What will their ladies think, come fifty years?
   Are we to be despised by female highbrows?
Or by "neo-cuties," with enamelled cars,
   Noses be-ringed and quite devoid of eyebrows?
Or will the race, perchance be cleft in two:
   One part, bluestockings, scientists and sages;
The other, "baby-dolls" and "dumb-bells" who,
With their sleek shieks, when tom-toms are taboo,
   Seek sillier pleasures thro' ... stone ages.

What will men think?  Will men be wont to drink?
   Should war and hectic peace at last have ended
The frantic haste that lured men to the brink
   Of nothingness?  When silence has descended
O'er all the earth, save where the wild ass brays
   Thro' fresh-sprung forests and the world knows leisure --
That leisure lost to men in olden days --
And bird and beast, new taught in Wisdom's ways,
   Accept with humble thanks earth's teeming treasure.

Herald, 18 September 1935, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2004-07