Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
William (Johnson) Cory. 1823–1892
  
758. 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 forgo,         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 remember'd 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 O, the very reason why 
I clasp them, is because they die. 
 
 
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