Letter to a Future Generation

Original Text: 
The Selected Gwendolyn MacEwen. Edited by Meaghan Strimas, introduction by Rosemary Sullivan. Toronto, ON: Exile, 2007: 95-96.
1we did not anticipate you, you bright ones
2though some of us saw you kneeling behind our bombs,
3we did not fervently grow towards you
4for most of us grew backwards
5sowing our seed in the black field of history
6avoid monuments, engrave our names beneath your own
7for you have consumed our ashes by now
8for you have one quiet mighty language by now
9do not excavate our cities
10to catalogue the objects of our doom
11but burn all you find to make yourselves room,
12you have no need of archaeology,
13your faces are your total history
14for us it was necessary to invent a darkness,
15to subtract light in order to see,
16for us it was certain death to know our names
17as they were written in the black books of history
18I stand with an animal at my left hand
19and a warm, breathing ghost at my right
20saying, Remember that this letter was made
21for you to burn, that its meaning lies
22only in your burning it,
23that its lines await your cleansing fire--
24understand it only insofar
25as that warm ghost at my right hand breathed
26down my blood and for a moment wrote the lines
27while guns sounded from a mythical city
28and destroyed the times
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
The Shadow-Maker. Toronto, ON: Macmillan, 1969.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire, assisted by Ana Berdinskikh
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

"Letter to a Future Generation" &copy; copyright the family of Gwendolyn MacEwen and <a href="http://www.exileeditions.com/">Exile Editions</a>. Permission to publish granted by the author's family.