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Best Famous Philip Larkin Poems

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by Philip Larkin |

MCMXIV

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park 
The crowns of hats the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops the bleached 
Established names on the sunblinds 
The farthings and sovereigns 
Adn dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens 
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist and the pubs
Wide open all day;

And the countryside ont caring:
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat's restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses 
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence 
Never before or since 
As changed itself to past
Without a word--the men
Leaving the gardens tidy 
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a littlewhile longer:
Never such innocence again.

1964


by Philip Larkin |

Church Going

Once i am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting seats and stone 
and little books; sprawlings of flowers cut
For Sunday brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense musty unignorable silence 
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless I take off
My cylce-clips in awkward revrence 

Move forward run my hand around the font.
From where i stand the roof looks almost new--
Cleaned or restored? someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern I peruse a few
hectoring large-scale verses and pronouce
Here endeth much more loudly than I'd meant
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book donate an Irish sixpence 
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.

Yet stop I did: in fact I often do 
And always end much at a loss like this 
Wondering what to look for; wondering too
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show 
Their parchment plate and pyx in locked cases 
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?

Or after dark will dubious women come
To make their children touvh a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games in riddles seemingly at random;
But superstition like belief must die 
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass weedy pavement brambles butress sky.

A shape less recognisable each week 
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last the very last to seek
This place for whta it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber randy for antique 
Or Christmas-addict counting on a whiff
Of grown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative 

Bored uninformed knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation--marriage and birth 
And death and thoughts of these--for which was built
This special shell? For though I've no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth 
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is 
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet 
Are recognisd and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete 
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious 
And gravitating with it to this ground 
Which he once heard was proper to grow wise in 
If only that so many dead lie round.

1955


by Philip Larkin |

Ambulances

Closed like confessionals, they thread
Loud noons of cities, giving back
None of the glances they absorb.
Light glossy grey, arms on a plaque,
They come to rest at any kerb:
All streets in time are visited.

Then children strewn on steps or road,
Or women coming from the shops
Past smells of different dinners, see
A wild white face that overtops
Red stretcher-blankets momently
As it is carried in and stowed,

And sense the solving emptiness
That lies just under all we do,
And for a second get it whole,
So permanent and blank and true.
The fastened doors recede. Poor soul,
They whisper at their own distress;

For borne away in deadened air
May go the sudden shut of loss
Round something nearly at an end,
And what cohered in it across
The years, the unique random blend
Of families and fashions, there

At last begin to loosen. Far
From the exchange of love to lie
Unreachable insided a room
The trafic parts to let go by
Brings closer what is left to come,
And dulls to distance all we are.

1964


by Philip Larkin |

Talking in Bed

Talking in bed ought ot be easiest 
Lying together there goes back so far 
An emblem of two people being honest.

Yet more and more time passes silently.
Outside the wind's incomplete unrest
builds and disperses clouds about the sky.

And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation

It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind 
Or ont untrue and not unkind.

1964


by Philip Larkin |

The Explosion

On the day of the explosion
Shadows pointed towards the pithead:
In thesun the slagheap slept.

Down the lane came men in pitboots
Coughing oath-edged talk and pipe-smoke 
Shouldering off the freshened silence.

One chased after rabbits; lost them;
Came back with a nest of lark's eggs;
Showed them; lodged them in the grasses.

SO they passed in beards and moleskins 
Fathers brothers nicknames laughter 
Through the tall gates standing open.

At noon there came a tremor; cows
Stopped chewing for a second; sun 
Scarfed as in a heat-haze dimmed.

The dead go on before us they
Are sitting in God's house in comfort 
We shall see them face to face--

plian as lettering in the chapels
It was said and for a second
Wives saw men of the explosion

Larger than in life they managed--
Gold as on a coin or walking
Somehow from the sun towards them 

One showing the eggs unbroken.


by Philip Larkin |

Arrival

 Morning, a glass door, flashes
Gold names off the new city,
Whose white shelves and domes travel
The slow sky all day.
I land to stay here;
And the windows flock open
And the curtains fly out like doves
And a past dries in a wind.

Now let me lie down, under
A wide-branched indifference,
Shovel-faces like pennies
Down the back of the mind,
Find voices coined to
An argot of motor-horns,
And let the cluttered-up houses
Keep their thick lives to themselves.

For this ignorance of me
Seems a kind of innocence.
Fast enough I shall wound it:
Let me breathe till then
Its milk-aired Eden,
Till my own life impound it-
Slow-falling; grey-veil-hung; a theft,
A style of dying only.


by Philip Larkin |

Autobiography At An Air-Station

 Delay, well, travellers must expect 
Delay. For how long? No one seems to know. 
With all the luggage weighed, the tickets checked, 
It can't be long... We amble too and fro, 
Sit in steel chairs, buy cigarettes and sweets 
And tea, unfold the papers. Ought we to smile, 
Perhaps make friends? No: in the race for seats 
You're best alone. Friendship is not worth while. 

Six hours pass: if I'd gone by boat last night 
I'd be there now. Well, it's too late for that. 
The kiosk girl is yawning. I fell stale, 
Stupified, by inaction - and, as light 
Begins to ebb outside, by fear, I set 
So much on this Assumption. Now it's failed.


by Philip Larkin |

Wants

 Beyond all this, the wish to be alone:
However the sky grows dark with invitation-cards
However we follow the printed directions of sex
However the family is photographed under the flag-staff -
Beyond all this, the wish to be alone.

Beneath it all, the desire for oblivion runs:
Despite the artful tensions of the calendar,
The life insurance, the tabled fertility rites,
The costly aversion of the eyes away from death -
Beneath it all, the desire for oblivion runs.


by Philip Larkin |

First Sight

 Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.

As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth's immeasureable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow
Utterly unlike the snow.


by Philip Larkin |

The Importance Of Elsewhere

 Lonely in Ireland, since it was not home, 
Strangeness made sense. The salt rebuff of speech, 
Insisting so on difference, made me welcome: 
Once that was recognised, we were in touch 

Their draughty streets, end-on to hills, the faint 
Archaic smell of dockland, like a stable, 
The herring-hawker's cry, dwindling, went 
To prove me separate, not unworkable. 

Living in England has no such excuse: 
These are my customs and establishments 
It would be much more serious to refuse. 
Here no elsewhere underwrites my existence.