25 July 2020

Poem of the Week: ‘Damnatio Memoriae’, by Sam Quill

Posted by the Bookshop

Sam Quill is a poet based in London. His poems have featured in PN Review and elsewhere.

Damnatio Memoriae

This has nothing to do with politics
but when I think of thousands of statues falling
into deep snow, by one, by two, by three,
some felled together, comradely, and some
in sterile isolation, I am happy.

And when I think of what happened to Sejanus,
his sick ambition thumbed from the used coin;
and of the thousand pyres that burned John Wycliffe;
and of Hemingway’s brain, under the cosh of electric
and the cosh of wine and the bullet’s blackening cosh;
and all that Anne Frank managed to forget, I am calm.

I am given comfort by the thought
of locust plagues, the flooding of museums;
the image of a drowned man who is pinned
beneath a waterfall, never to surface;
and, yes, the burning of books.