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This poem is taken from PN Review 84, Volume 18 Number 4, March - April 1992.

The Rake's Progress C.H. Sisson

The continuity of man
From before birth till after death
Is necessary to his kind.
Either the womb contains the mind
Which carries on to the last breath
Or history never began.

The baby who at last appears
And drinks his mother with her milk
Is clad already in the past:
Spinning and weaving hands at last
Achieved his gown of sack or silk,
As voices made the words he hears.

And there is nothing that he sees
Which ages have not modified.
The very smile his, mother wears
Reflects how she conceivt.., her cares:
...


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