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The To-Be-Forgotten

I heard a small sad sound,
And stood awhile among the tombs around:
"Wherefore, old friends," said I, "are you distrest,
Now, screened from life's unrest?"

--"O not at being here;
But that our future second death is near;
When, with the living, memory of us numbs,
And blank oblivion comes!

"These, our sped ancestry,
Lie here embraced by deeper death than we;
Nor shape nor thought of theirs can you descry
With keenest backward eye.
IV "They count as quite forgot; They are as men who have existed not; Theirs is a loss past loss of fitful breath; It is the second death.
V "We here, as yet, each day Are blest with dear recall; as yet, can say We hold in some soul loved continuance Of shape and voice and glance.
VI "But what has been will be -- First memory, then oblivion's swallowing sea; Like men foregone, shall we merge into those Whose story no one knows.
VII "For which of us could hope To show in life that world-awakening scope Granted the few whose memory none lets die, But all men magnify? VIII "We were but Fortune's sport; Things true, things lovely, things of good report We neither shunned nor sought .
We see our bourne, And seeing it we mourn.

by Thomas Hardy
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