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This poem is taken from PN Review 29, Volume 9 Number 3, January - February 1983.

Words for Sir Thomas Browne John Matthias

i.
If melancholy is a sadness with no reasonable cause,
your son Tom's death at sea produced in you a grief

and not a melancholy. You would define, define again,
whose testimony helped convict, in 1655,

two witches in the court of Matthew Hale. Gentle man,
they hung on Suffolk gallows till they died.

You bore no kind of malice towards them, either one,
and you studied to avoid all controversy always.

But if no witches did the Devil's work, it followed
that no works were done among us by the Spirits,

and from that, no doubt 'obliquely', that the hierarchy
of creation would collapse & neither New Philosophy

nor love could save the soul of your young Tom
who read & praised the pagans on his ship whose noble

straynes, you thought, may well affect a generous mind
Amazed at those audacities, which durst be nothing,
...


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