Mimnermus in Church


Mimnermus in Church

Mimnermus in Church is a poem written by William Johnson Cory

Background

William Johnson was an Eton master and author of the lyrics to the Eton Boating Song. He left Eton under suspicion of improper relations with students and added Cory to his name. He published a volume of homoerotic verse called "Ionica." Mimnermus in Church contrasts the warm delights of actual life with the cold joys of a merely promised heaven.

Text

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,
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 remember'd 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 O, the very reason why
I clasp them, is because they die.

Song setting

This poem was set to music (circa 1994) by the English songwriter and composer William D. Drake and performed by his psychedelic acoustic band Lake Of Puppies. The setting was later given a fuller orchestration by Lake of Puppies member Craig Fortnam and was taken into the repertoire of the chamber ensemble North Sea Radio Orchestra (in which both Drake and Fortnam currently perform, alongside former Lake of Puppies singer and bass guitarist Sharron Fortnam).

A recording of the North Sea Radio Orchestra version of the song can be heard on the ensemble's 2006 debut album North Sea Radio Orchestra.


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