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what will survive of us is love | by Simon_K
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what will survive of us is love

St George, South Acre, Norfolk


They would not think to lie so long.

Such faithfulness in effigy

Was just a detail friends would see:

A sculptor's sweet commissioned grace

Thrown off in helping to prolong

The Latin names around the base.


They would not guess how early in

Their supine stationary voyage

The air would change to soundless damage,

Turn the old tenantry away;

How soon succeeding eyes begin

To look, not read. Rigidly they


Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths

Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light

Each summer thronged the grass. A bright

Litter of birdcalls strewed the same

Bone-littered ground. And up the paths

The endless altered people came,


Washing at their identity.

Now, helpless in the hollow of

An unarmorial age, a trough

Of smoke in slow suspended skeins

Above their scrap of history,

Only an attitude remains:


Time has transfigured them into

Untruth. The stone fidelity

They hardly meant has come to be

Their final blazon, and to prove

Our almost-instinct almost true:

What will survive of us is love.


Philip Larkin, An Arundel Tomb (1956)


A detail of the brass memorial to Sir John Harsyck and his wife Katherine, 1384.


Nearby Castle Acre is more famous, but the church of St George at South Acre is both beautiful and interesting. The most famous feature is the huge alabaster table monument to Sir Edward Barkham and his wife, from the 1630s.


The church has brick floors, brasses, medieval glass and bench ends, and is full of pale, ancient light. What more could you want?

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Uploaded on May 17, 2009