Mimnermus in Church

Painting
by

Andrew Wyeth (1948)

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Mimnermus in Church

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,

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:

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,

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;

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.