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Memorat Memoria

Francis Thompson 1859 (City of Preston, Lancashire) – 1907 (London)

Come you living or dead to me, out of the silt of the Past,
With the sweet of the piteous first, and the shame of the shameful last?
Come with your dear and dreadful face through the passes of Sleep,
The terrible mask, and the face it masked--the face you did not keep?
You are neither two nor one--I would you were one or two,
For your awful self is embalmed in the fragrant self I knew:
And Above may ken, and Beneath may ken, what I mean by these words of whirl,
But by my sleep that sleepeth not,--O Shadow of a Girl!--
Nought here but I and my dreams shall know the secret of this thing:-
For ever the songs I sing are sad with the songs I never sing,
Sad are sung songs, but how more sad the songs we dare not sing!

Ah, the ill that we do in tenderness, and the hateful horror of love!
It has sent more souls to the unslaked Pit than it ever will draw above.
I damned you, girl, with my pity, who had better by far been thwart,
And drave you hard on the track to hell, because I was gentle of heart.
I shall have no comfort now in scent, no ease in dew, for this;
I shall be afraid of daffodils, and rose-buds are amiss;
You have made a thing of innocence as shameful as a sin,
I shall never feel a girl's soft arms without horror of the skin.
My child! what was it that I sowed, that I so ill should reap?
You have done this to me. And I, what I to you?--It lies with Sleep.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Francis Thompson

The Rt Rev Francis William Banahene Thompson was Bishop of Accra from 1983 to 1996. more…

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    "Memorat Memoria" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 5 May 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/13921/memorat-memoria>.

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