• Love, We Must Part Now by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    Love, we must part now: do not let it be Calamitious and bitter. In the past There has been too much moonlight and self-pity: Let us have done with it: for now at last Never has sun more boldly paced the sky, Never were hearts more eager to be free, To kick down worlds, lash forests; you and I No longer hold them; we are husks, that see The grain going forward to a different use.

    There is regret. Always, there is regret. But it is better that our lives unloose, As two tall ships, wind-mastered, wet with light, Break from an estuary with their courses set, And waving part, and waving drop from sight.

  • Breadfruit by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    Boys dream of native girls who bring breadfruit, Whatever they are, As bribes to teach them how to execute Sixteen sexual positions on the sand; This makes them join (the boys) the tennis club, Jive at the Mecca, use deodorants, and On Saturdays squire ex-schoolgirls to the pub By private car.

    Such uncorrected visions end in church Or registrar:

    A mortgaged semi- with a silver birch; Nippers; the widowed mum; having to scheme With money; illness; age. So absolute Maturity falls, when old men sit and dream Of naked native girls who bring breadfruit Whatever they are.

  • How Distant by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    How distant, the departure of young men Down valleys, or watching The green shore past the salt-white cordage Rising and falling.

    Cattlemen, or carpenters, or keen Simply to get away From married villages before morning, Melodeons play

    On tiny decks past fraying cliffs of water Or late at night Sweet under the differently-swung stars, When the chance sight

    Of a girl doing her laundry in the steerage Ramifies endlessly. This is being young, Assumption of the startled century

    Like new store clothes, The huge decisions printed out by feet Inventing where they tread, The random windows conjuring a street.

  • Homage To A Government by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    Next year we are to bring all the soldiers home For lack of money, and it is all right. Places they guarded, or kept orderly, We want the money for ourselves at home Instead of working. And this is all right.

    It’s hard to say who wanted it to happen, But now it’s been decided nobody minds. The places are a long way off, not here, Which is all right, and from what we hear The soldiers there only made trouble happen. Next year we shall be easier in our minds.

    Next year we shall be living in a country That brought its soldiers home for lack of money. The statues will be standing in the same Tree-muffled squares, and look nearly the same. Our children will not know it’s a different country. All we can hope to leave them now is money.

  • Maiden Name by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    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 losing shape and meaning less With your depreciating luggage laden.

  • Annus Mirabilis by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    Sexual intercourse began In nineteen sixty-three (which was rather late for me) - Between the end of the Chatterley ban And the Beatles’ first LP.

    Up to then there’d only been A sort of bargaining, A wrangle for the ring, A shame that started at sixteen And spread to everything.

    Then all at once the quarrel sank: Everyone felt the same, And every life became A brilliant breaking of the bank, A quite unlosable game.

    So life was never better than In nineteen sixty-three (Though just too late for me) - Between the end of the Chatterley ban And the Beatles’ first LP.

  • Far Out by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    Beyond the dark cartoons Are darker spaces where Small cloudy nests of stars Seem to float on air.

    These have no proper names: Men out alone at night Never look up at them For guidance or delight,

    For such evasive dust Can make so little clear: Much less is known than not, More far than near.

  • Maiden Name by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    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 losing shape and meaning less With your depreciating luggage laden.

  • Deceptions by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    “Of course I was drugged, and so heavily I did not regain consciousness until the next morning. I was horrified to discover that I had been ruined, and for some days I was inconsolable, and cried like a child to be killed or sent back to my aunt.”

    —Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor

    Even so distant, I can taste the grief, Bitter and sharp with stalks, he made you gulp. The sun’s occasional print, the brisk brief Worry of wheels along the street outside Where bridal London bows the other way, And light, unanswerable and tall and wide, Forbids the scar to heal, and drives Shame out of hiding. All the unhurried day, Your mind lay open like a drawer of knives.

    Slums, years, have buried you. I would not dare Console you if I could. What can be said, Except that suffering is exact, but where Desire takes charge, readings will grow erratic? For you would hardly care That you were less deceived, out on that bed, Than he was, stumbling up the breathless stair To burst into fulfillment’s desolate attic.

  • Dockery and son (from Whitsun Weddings) by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    ‘Dockery was junior to you, Wasn’t he?’ said the Dean. ‘His son’s here now.’ Death-suited, visitant, I nod. ‘And do You keep in touch with—’ Or remember how Black-gowned, unbreakfasted, and still half-tight We used to stand before that desk, to give ‘Our version’ of ‘these incidents last night’? I try the door of where I used to live:

    Locked. The lawn spreads dazzlingly wide. A known bell chimes. I catch my train, ignored. Canal and clouds and colleges subside Slowly from view. But Dockery, good Lord, Anyone up today must have been born In ’43, when I was twenty-one. If he was younger, did he get this son At nineteen, twenty? Was he that withdrawn

    High-collared public-schoolboy, sharing rooms With Cartwright who was killed? Well, it just shows How much … How little … Yawning, I suppose I fell asleep, waking at the fumes And furnace-glares of Sheffield, where I changed, And ate an awful pie, and walked along The platform to its end to see the ranged Joining and parting lines reflect a strong

    Unhindered moon. To have no son, no wife, No house or land still seemed quite natural. Only a numbness registered the shock Of finding out how much had gone of life, How widely from the others. Dockery, now: Only nineteen, he must have taken stock Of what he wanted, and been capable Of … No, that’s not the difference: rather, how

    Convinced he was he should be added to! Why did he think adding meant increase? To me it was dilution. Where do these Innate assumptions come from? Not from what We think truest, or most want to do: Those warp tight-shut, like doors. They’re more a style Our lives bring with them: habit for a while, Suddenly they harden into all we’ve got

    And how we got it; looked back on, they rear Like sand-clouds, thick and close, embodying For Dockery a son, for me nothing, Nothing with all a son’s harsh patronage. Life is first boredom, then fear. Whether or not we use it, it goes, And leaves what something hidden from us chose, And age, and then the only end of age.

  • Aubade (from Collected Poems) by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    I work all day, and get half-drunk at night. Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare. In time the curtain-edges will grow light. Till then I see what’s really always there: Unresting death, a whole day nearer now, Making all thought impossible but how And where and when I shall myself die. Arid interrogation: yet the dread Of dying, and being dead, Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

    The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse —The good not done, the love not given, time Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because An only life can take so long to climb Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never; But at the total emptiness for ever, The sure extinction that we travel to And shall be lost in always. Not to be here, Not to be anywhere, And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

    This is a special way of being afraid No trick dispels. Religion used to try, That vast moth-eaten musical brocade Created to pretend we never die, And specious stuff that says No rational being Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound, No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with, Nothing to love or link with, The anaesthetic from which none come round.

    And so it stays just on the edge of vision, A small unfocused blur, a standing chill That slows each impulse down to indecision. Most things may never happen: this one will, And realisation of it rages out In furnace-fear when we are caught without People or drink. Courage is no good: It means not scaring others. Being brave Lets no one off the grave. Death is no different whined at than withstood.

    Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape. It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know, Have always known, know that we can’t escape, Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go. Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring Intricate rented world begins to rouse. The sky is white as clay, with no sun. Work has to be done. Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

  • Vers de Société (from Collected Poems) by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    My wife and I have asked a crowd of craps To come and waste their time and ours: perhaps You’d care to join us? In a pig’s arse, friend. Day comes to an end. The gas fire breathes, the trees are darkly swayed. And so Dear Warlock-Williams: I’m afraid—

    Funny how hard it is to be alone. I could spend half my evenings, if I wanted, Holding a glass of washing sherry, canted Over to catch the drivel of some bitch Who’s read nothing but Which; Just think of all the spare time that has flown

    Straight into nothingness by being filled With forks and faces, rather than repaid Under a lamp, hearing the noise of wind, And looking out to see the moon thinned To an air-sharpened blade. A life, and yet how sternly it’s instilled

    All solitude is selfish. No one now Believes the hermit with his gown and dish Talking to God (who’s gone too); the big wish Is to have people nice to you, which means Doing it back somehow. Virtue is social. Are, then, these routines

    Playing at goodness, like going to church? Something that bores us, something we don’t do well (Asking that ass about his fool research) But try to feel, because, however crudely, It shows us what should be? Too subtle, that. Too decent, too. Oh hell,

    Only the young can be alone freely. The time is shorter now for company, And sitting by a lamp more often brings Not peace, but other things. Beyond the light stand failure and remorse Whispering Dear Warlock-Williams: Why, of course—

  • Aubade (from Collected Poems) by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
    Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
    In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
    Till then I see what’s really always there:
    Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
    Making all thought impossible but how
    And where and when I shall myself die.
    Arid interrogation: yet the dread Of dying, and being dead, Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

    The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
    —The good not done, the love not given, time
    Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because
    An only life can take so long to climb Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
    But at the total emptiness for ever, The sure extinction that we travel to And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
    Not to be anywhere, And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

    This is a special way of being afraid No trick dispels. Religion used to try, That vast moth-eaten musical brocade Created to pretend we never die, And specious stuff that says No rational being Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,
    No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
    Nothing to love or link with, The anaesthetic from which none come round.

    And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
    A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
    That slows each impulse down to indecision.
    Most things may never happen: this one will,
    And realisation of it rages out In furnace-fear when we are caught without
    People or drink. Courage is no good: It means not scaring others. Being brave
    Lets no one off the grave. Death is no different whined at than withstood.

    Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
    It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
    Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
    Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go. Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
    In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring Intricate rented world begins to rouse. The sky is white as clay, with no sun. Work has to be done. Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

  • Vers de Société (from Collected Poems) by Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 - 1985)

    My wife and I have asked a crowd of craps To come and waste their time and ours: perhaps
    You’d care to join us? In a pig’s arse, friend.
    Day comes to an end. The gas fire breathes, the trees are darkly swayed.
    And so Dear Warlock-Williams: I’m afraid—

    Funny how hard it is to be alone. I could spend half my evenings, if I wanted,
    Holding a glass of washing sherry, canted
    Over to catch the drivel of some bitch
    Who’s read nothing but Which; Just think of all the spare time that has flown

    Straight into nothingness by being filled
    With forks and faces, rather than repaid
    Under a lamp, hearing the noise of wind,
    And looking out to see the moon thinned
    To an air-sharpened blade. A life, and yet how sternly it’s instilled

    All solitude is selfish. No one now Believes the hermit with his gown and dish
    Talking to God (who’s gone too); the big wish
    Is to have people nice to you, which means
    Doing it back somehow. Virtue is social. Are, then, these routines

    Playing at goodness, like going to church? Something that bores us, something we don’t do well
    (Asking that ass about his fool research)
    But try to feel, because, however crudely,
    It shows us what should be? Too subtle, that. Too decent, too. Oh hell,

    Only the young can be alone freely. The time is shorter now for company, And sitting by a lamp more often brings Not peace, but other things. Beyond the light stand failure and remorse
    Whispering Dear Warlock-Williams: Why, of course—

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