“One day, quite some time ago I happened on a photograph of Napoleon’s youngest brother Jerome, taken in 1852.
And I realised then, with an amazement I have not been able to lessen since:
‘I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor’
The photograph below is of my parents. Written on the back is ‘taken near Marble Arch Tube Station, April 17th, 1949’. I know nothing more about this photograph beyond the fact that it was taken a good ten years before I was born. My parents may not have looked at the Emperor, but they have their own stories from which I am separated by history….
“The archaeologist’s spade
delves into dwellings
vacancied long ago,
of life-ways no one
would dream of leading now,
concerning which he has not much
to say that he can prove:
the lucky man!….”
[From “Archaeology” by WH Auden]