Our Century

A poem of remembrance

Leslie Bishop, poet Born 1908

Leslie Bishop

An Old Man Looks at the 20th Century

Would I bid this century tarry?
A fun-filled uncle, shot at 23, in France -
The duty photographer blown up at Rome -
A doctor, who defined cancer, "crucified" for his pains.
How now does it tick?
Fertility clinics, in an overpopulated world,
Forever monitoring the private parts,
Experiments with the genes' advance,
Computer brains and artificial hearts -
Humanity splinterized and localised -
Crime ravages and corruption reigns!
Squeezed by inflation, we confront the choice:
Nuclear death or slow asphyxiation by pollution.
So take your pick! I cannot offer a solution.
And yet, alongside fears there have been gains,
Things I like to remember: Parties at Auntie Grace's -
Passover with a Jewish family in London -
Beauty of a girl I could not marry
Flame-coloured leaves of an Ontario fall -
Will-power of a frail Canadian who changed my life,
And gave me a valiant son,
My all-too-brief companions -
An honourable profession that probed souls
In quest for truth, hated by self-deceivers -
A thoughtful Editor, dying in harness, who sent me home,
To learn how to pain faces
And talk with long-lost friends beside the sparkling coals.