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At Grass

 The eye can hardly pick them out
From the cold shade they shelter in,
Till wind distresses tail and main;
Then one crops grass, and moves about
- The other seeming to look on -
And stands anonymous again

Yet fifteen years ago, perhaps
Two dozen distances surficed
To fable them: faint afternoons
Of Cups and Stakes and Handicaps,
Whereby their names were artificed
To inlay faded, classic Junes -

Silks at the start: against the sky
Numbers and parasols: outside,
Squadrons of empty cars, and heat,
And littered grass : then the long cry
Hanging unhushed till it subside
To stop-press columns on the street.
Do memories plague their ears like flies? They shake their heads.
Dusk brims the shadows.
Summer by summer all stole away, The starting-gates, the crowd and cries - All but the unmolesting meadows.
Almanacked, their names live; they Have slipped their names, and stand at ease, Or gallop for what must be joy, And not a fieldglass sees them home, Or curious stop-watch prophesies: Only the grooms, and the grooms boy, With bridles in the evening come.

by Philip Larkin
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