Antichrist as a Child

James Reaney’s poem “Antichrist as a Child” is the poem of the day on Poetry Daily, an online anthology of contemporary poetry. “Antichrist as a Child” can also be found in The Essential James Reaney, published by The Porcupine’s Quill.

Antichrist as a Child

When Antichrist was a child
He caught himself tracing
The capital letter A
On a window sill
And wondered why
Because his name contained no A.
And as he crookedly stood
In his mother’s flower-garden
He wondered why she looked so sadly
Out of an upstairs window at him.
He wondered why his father stared so
Whenever he saw his little son
Walking in his soot-coloured suit.
He wondered why the flowers
And even the ugliest weeds
Avoided his fingers and his touch.
And when his shoes began to hurt
Because his feet were becoming hooves
He did not let on to anyone
For fear they would shoot him for a monster.
He wondered why he more and more
Dreamed of eclipses of the sun,
Of sunsets, ruined towns and zeppelins,
And especially inverted, upside down churches.

James Reaney, 1949

Zamorna! And The House By the Churchyard

From Zamorna, April 17, 1999. Photo by Henry Xiong

Zamorna! And The House By the Churchyard, which was performed by students of the George Brown Theatre School in 1999, has been published for the first time in Reaney Days in the West Room: Plays of James Reaney, edited by David Ferry.

The play blends the real world of the Brontë family with a creation from their literary juvenilia, Branwell’s fantasy world of Zamorna. On April 17, 1999, James Reaney attended a performance of the play at George Brown College. Afterwards, he and David Ferry, the play’s director, participated in a discussion with members of the audience.

From Scene 4, 1831 Heatherbell:

BRANWELL Well, you see, girls… I’m a poet.

EMILY (with a book) There’s an old Welsh law, Branwell, that says—

GIRLS There are three things it is death to be:

CHARLOTTE death to be a king

ANNE fall in love with a fairy woman

EMILY death to be a poet

Sewing music swells up.

GIRLS Death… it is death to be a poet.

Zamorna (2)
Zamona (3)
Zamona (4)
April 17, 1999: James Reaney speaks with the audience after the show. (Photo by Henry Xiong)
April 17, 1999: James Reaney chatting after the show. (Photo by Henry Xiong)