Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry III: From Tennyson to Whitman
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   English Poetry III: From Tennyson to Whitman.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
687. Mimnermus in Church
 
William (Johnson) Cory (1823–1892)
 
 
YOU promise heavens free from strife,
  Pure truth, and perfect change of will;
But sweet, sweet is this human life,
  So sweet, I fain would breathe it still:
Your chilly stars I can forego,        5
This warm kind world is all I know.
 
You say there is no substance here,
  One great reality above:
Back from that void I shrink in fear,
  And child-like hide myself in love:        10
Show me what angels feel. Till then,
I cling, a mere weak man, to men.
 
You bid me lift my mean desires
  From faltering lips and fitful veins
To sexless souls, ideal quires,        15
  Unwearied voices, wordless strains:
My mind with fonder welcome owns
One dear dead friend’s remembered tones.
 
Forsooth the present we must give
  To that which cannot pass away;        20
All beauteous things for which we live
  By laws of time and space decay.
But oh, the very reason why
I clasp them, is because they die.
 

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