EppsNet Archive: Philip Larkin

Winter Palace

 

Most people know more as they get older: I give all that the cold shoulder. I spent my second quarter-century Losing what I had learnt at university. And refusing to take in what had happened since. Now I know none of the names in the public prints, And am starting to give offence by forgetting faces And swearing I’ve never been in certain places. It will be worth it, if in the end I manage To blank out whatever it is that is doing the damage. Then there will be nothing I know. My mind will fold into itself, like fields, like snow. — Philip Larkin, “Winter Palace” Read more →

Love Songs in Age

 

She kept her songs, they kept so little space,  The covers pleased her: One bleached from lying in a sunny place, One marked in circles by a vase of water, One mended, when a tidy fit had seized her,  And coloured, by her daughter – So they had waited, till, in widowhood She found them, looking for something else, and stood Relearning how each frank submissive chord  Had ushered in Word after sprawling hyphenated word, And the unfailing sense of being young Spread out like a spring-woken tree, wherein  That hidden freshness sung, That certainty of time laid up in store As when she played them first. But, even more, The glare of that much-mentionned brilliance, love,  Broke out, to show Its bright incipience sailing above, Still promising to solve, and satisfy, And set unchangeably in order. So  To pile them back, to cry, Was hard, without lamely admitting how… Read more →

Maiden Name

 

Marrying left your maiden name disused. Its five light sounds no longer mean your face, Your voice, and all your variants of grace; For since you were so thankfully confused By law with someone else, you cannot be Semantically the same as that young beauty: It was of her that these two words were used. Now it’s a phrase applicable to no one, Lying just where you left it, scattered through Old lists, old programmes, a school prize or two Packets of letters tied with tartan ribbon – Then is it scentless, weightless, strengthless, wholly Untruthful? Try whispering it slowly. No, it means you. Or, since you’re past and gone, It means what we feel now about you then: How beautiful you were, and near, and young, So vivid, you might still be there among Those first few days, unfingermarked again. So your old name shelters our faithfulness, Instead of… Read more →

Places, Loved Ones

 

No, I have never found The place where I could say This is my proper ground, Here I shall stay; Nor met that special one Who has an instant claim On everything I own Down to my name; To find such seems to prove You want no choice in where To build, or whom to love; You ask them to bear You off irrevocably, So that it’s not your fault Should the town turn dreary, The girl a dolt. Yet, having missed them, you’re Bound, none the less, to act As if what you settled for Mashed you, in fact; And wiser to keep away From thinking you still might trace Uncalled-for to this day Your person, your place. — Philip Larkin, “Places, Loved Ones” Read more →

Next, Please

 

Always too eager for the future, we Pick up bad habits of expectancy. Something is always approaching; every day Till then we say, Watching from a bluff the tiny, clear Sparkling armada of promises draw near. How slow they are! And how much time they waste, Refusing to make haste! Yet still they leave us holding wretched stalks Of disappointment, for, though nothing balks Each big approach, leaning with brasswork prinked, Each rope distinct, Flagged, and the figurehead wit golden tits Arching our way, it never anchors; it’s No sooner present than it turns to past. Right to the last We think each one will heave to and unload All good into our lives, all we are owed For waiting so devoutly and so long. But we are wrong: Only one ship is seeking us, a black- Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back A huge and birdless silence. In her… Read more →

Going

 

There is an evening coming in Across the fields, one never seen before, That lights no lamps. Silken it seems at a distance, yet When it is drawn up over the knees and breast It brings no comfort. Where has the tree gone, that locked Earth to the sky? What is under my hands, That I cannot feel? What loads my hands down? — Philip Larkin, “Going” Read more →

Why People Are So Messed Up

 

When I was a kid, I had a cousin Kathy, who liked to eat meals one item at a time. For example, if she had what I had last night, which was salmon, spinach and brown rice, she’d eat all of the salmon, then all of the spinach, then all of the rice. Not necessarily in that order but you get the idea. Some adults in our family would get mad that she ate meals that way and would yell at her to stop doing it. Like, what difference could it possibly make to anyone in what order she eats portions of food? Mind your own goddamn business. Bad parenting is probably my hottest of hot buttons. Or as Philip Larkin used to say: They fuck you up, your mum and dad.     They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had     And add… Read more →

Poems I’ve Read Recently and Liked

 

“Aubade” by Philip Larkin “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by William Butler Yeats Read more →