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Poem-a-Day

Graffiti Scrawled By Choirboys, St. Mary's Church, Oxford

GRAFFITI SCRAWLED BY CHOIRBOYS, ST. MARY’S CHURCH, OXFORD

In the presence of reverence,
boredom. Even this
beautiful obligation
they will remember years later,
their voices gone
hoarse, merits mockery.
And so the choirboys
of a hundred generations
have scrawled their initials
and shapes only they knew
to be lewd in the wood
with penknives concealed
in their white robes
and with furtive glances
towards men who were once
choirboys themselves, and
whose initials are scrawled here
also and thus
must understand the impulse,
amidst all this
carved stone and stained glass,
to cut one’s name
in the blank grain
before sloughing off the self
and soaring into song.
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