“The Ideal” by James Fenton, 1983

I read this on a NYC subway ad part of the “Poetry in Motion” campaign – which brought poetry to The City’s commuters. It has resonated with me ever since. I memorized it, without effort, after I first read it and remember it to this day:

This is where I came from.
I passed this way.
This should not be shameful
Or hard to say.

A self is a self.
It is not a screen.
A person should respect
What he has been.

This is my past
Which I shall not discard.
This is the ideal.
This is hard.