The List

Original Text: 
The Tradition (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986): 23. PS 8576 .074 T7 Robarts Library
1It occurred to me that we should write down the names of the dead.
2Then it was necessary to have a system of measuring time
3to write them down accurately, in order:
4which one came first and which ones afterward.
5At once, when that was done, I saw what poor memories we have,
6and that everything we know is only poor memory.
7People would talk to me of such-and-such a dead man
8as of a great chief or evil spirit from the days of the giants.
9But I had my list. I knew, and it was always thus:
10the man they spoke of was a trembler and woman-beater
11who had died in his sleep six or seven years ago.
12Some day my list will be so long
13that its keeper, when I am dead, will not know anything
14about the men who had the names at the beginning.
15Trying to know them from what I write,
16he will know that he makes them up out of himself.
17The list is now the dead. Never again will they
18come back to triumph over me
19in the fire and the darkness outside the fire.
20I've done it. I've finally killed them. I've killed the dead.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

<b>This poem cannot be published anywhere without the written consent of Albert Frank Moritz or the Princeton University Press permissions department.</b>