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This poem is taken from PN Review 53, Volume 13 Number 3, January - February 1987.

Two Poems Gavin Ewart

A Memorial Service in a South London Crematorium

Shall we go down South of the Border, right down, Betjeman way?
To the Cemetery in Streatham, where the mourners hope and pray?
Where the silent swift Cremation holds undisputed sway?

Down where the beefy peasants eat chips with everything?
There are sometimes Hymns on the telly, but none that they can sing -
All the worship there is vestigial, and Christ a Forgotten King.

Everything's shortened to what the brain can uncomplainingly hold,
And Single Syllables hold sway. The Young as well as the Old
Vaguely believe, in the woolliest way, in Eternal Cities of Gold.

Or do they? For willy-nilly this is the End of Man.
The roses on the lawn spell out their MUM, their DAD, their NAN,
As Sorrow hangs round the Departed, each Viv, each Elsie, each Stan.

It's a gesture (like a cultured pearl, the Poet's tear in the eye
Isn't better than the sob and the grunt or the naked animal cry)
And it recognizes, in a way, that all men have to die.
...


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