A poem of remembrance

Today is All Souls’ Day, a day of remembrance in the Christian church. With Remembrance Sunday just around the corner, and people already selling and wearing poppies in anticipation, today is liable to get neglected. But tomorrow I will be singing Fauré’s Requiem in commemoration of the departed, and reading out this poem by Edwin Muir.

For Ann Scott-Moncrieff
(1914-1943)

Dear Ann, wherever you are
Since you lately learnt to die,
You are this unsetting star
That shines unchanged in my eye;
So near, inaccessible,
Absent and present so much
Since out of the world you fell,
Fell from hearing and touch–
So near. But your mortal tongue
Used for immortal use,
The grace of a woman young,
The air of an early muse,
The wealth of the chambered brow
And soaring flight of your eyes:
These are no longer now.
Death has a princely prize.

You who were Ann much more
Than others are that or this,
Extravagant over the score
To be what only is,
Would you not still say now
What you once used to say
Of the great Why and How,
On that or the other day?
For though of your heritage
The minority here began,
Now you have come of age
And are entirely Ann.

Under the years’ assaults,
In the storm of good and bad,
You too had the faults
That Emily Brontë had,
Ills of body and soul,
Of sinner and saint and all
Who strive to make themselves whole,
Smashed to bits by the Fall.
Yet ‘the world is a pleasant place’
I can hear your voice repeat,
While the sun shone in your face
Last summer in Princes Street.

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2 Responses to “A poem of remembrance”

  1. Mrs l m lewis Says:

    What a sad and beautiful poem. I lost my dear friend in march following a two year fight with cancer, and this made me cry at breakfast this morning!

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