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This poem is taken from PN Review 36, Volume 10 Number 4, March - April 1984.

A German Requiem James Fenton

'For as at a great distance of place, that which wee look at, appears dimme and without distinction of the smaller parts; and as Voyces grow weak and inarticulate: so also after great distance of time, our imagination of the Past is weak; and wee lose (for example) of Cities wee have seen, many particular Streets; and of Actions, many particular Circumstances. This decaying sense, when wee would express the thing it self, (I mean fancy it selfe,) wee call Imagination, as I said before: But when we would express the decay, and signifie that the Sense is fading, old, and past, it is called Memory. So that Imagination & Memory, are but one thing . . .'
Hobbes, Leviathan

It is not what they built. It is what they knocked down.
It is not the houses. It is the spaces between the houses.
It is not the streets that exist. It is the streets that no longer exist.
It is not your memories which haunt you.
It is not what you have written down.
It is what you have forgotten, what you must forget.
What you must go on forgetting all your life.
And with any luck oblivion should discover a ritual.
You will find out that you are not alone in the enterprise.
Yesterday the very furniture seemed to reproach you.
Today you take your place in the Widow's Shuttle.

*

The bus is waiting at the southern gate
To take you to the city of your ancestors
Which stands on the hill opposite, with gleaming pediments,
...


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