On a picture from the beginning of the past by Johannes von der Walkenmühle


On a picture from the beginning of the past

Century, stands a gazing man in the black and

White dust of a Parisian gallery.

He was fixed on paper with a bit of him

to rest with time and slip

From earthy ground.

And decades flowing past

He still asks

The questions most desired

In the changing eyes observing

His abyssal glance.

Who he was?, someone knew

For sure and someday died.

A father maybe, or a priest,

A lover too perhaps,

A soldier later probably

To rest in his grave

Unknown and forgotten soon.

The everburning flame

On marmoreal memorials

In every field and city

Need not fire, rather than

They´d need two eyes

and a thought from passing people.

From a long-gone man´s gaze

In a dusty-old photography

Radiates a pledge for peace

Universal through a changing history.

Bio: The name of the author behind the poem is not of interest, as it is the poem that shall act on the reader. Nonetheless I´ll tell you a pen name. A pseudonym should be sort of married to the things it apparently writes – I want to appear like a poet, someone with deep and important thoughts and who manages to encode those emotions and perceptions into an assemblage of well-chosen words, that do not transport one single meaning but might even haul many. But I am Austrian. And you can call me Johannes von der Walkenmühle.

And yes, I googled that name before; Seriously try it out and just mix all possible fore- and surnames: There´s always results, 7 billion people on this earth and some with the least advantageous names… There is only one Johannes von der Walkenmühle, though!

Synopsis: On my holiday in Paris, I bought a postcard with a nostalgic old photography of a crowd of people in one of the many galleries hidden in the city centre´s bowels. On it, one man´s strong gaze caught my attention and there was a connection that formed. These lines were surely written with the Zeitheist- article in the back of my mind, but more than that it is the attempt to catch the rests of the anonymous man floating through time and occasionally finding a weak but still present echo in a person of another era. History has been written since and even if we might not have learned from it the things we should have by now, we shall never stop trying to do good in the time we´ve got and maybe, one day, our gaze will wander through history and our smile will tell a story of a happier past.


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