Hervey Allen (1889-1949)

From The Bookman Anthology of Verse (1922). Read a biographical note.

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Dead Men

To a Metaphysician

If they were shadows walking to and fro
Upon a screen you call reality,
Then, when the light fails, where do shadows go?
This boy enigma rapes philosophy.
But if they really occupied three-square,
And now are only shadows on a screen,
How can the light still cast a shadow there
From shades of shadows that have never been?

Such questions are a mimic pantomime
Of ghosts to utter nothings in dream chairs,
Myopia squinting in a mist of time,
An eye that sees the eye with which it stares.
Your light too clearly shows the ancient stigma
Of questions solved by posing an enigma.