Send No Money by Philip Larkin

I’ve always had the blessed facility to learn poetry by heart. I don’t have a favourite poem; I feel a little challenged by those who can name theirs with certainty. For me, the poem of the moment varies with how I happen to feel. I can, though, say which poets I turn to most often: Auden, Eliot and Larkin. Last evening I found the lines I thought wanting unfair/ It and finding out clash running through my mind (don’t ask why, because I don’t know) which had me running through my Collected Larkin till I found it:

Send No Money by Philip Larkin

Standing under the fobbed
Impendent belly of Time
Tell me the truth, I said
Teach me the way things go
All the other lads there
Were itching to have a bash
But I thought wanting unfair
It and finding out clash

So he patted my head, booming Boy
There’s no green in your eye
Sit here and watch the hail
Of occurence clobber life out
To a shape no one sees
Dare you look at that straight?
Oh thank you, I said, Oh yes please
And sat down to wait

Half life is over now
And I meet full face on dark mornings
The bestial visor, bent in
By the blows of what happened to happen
What does it prove? Sod all
In this way I spent youth
Tracing the trite untransferable
Truss-advertisement, truth

There’s an element here of the essential What makes a writer? question; the writer stands back a little from the daily hurly-burly of life. S/he is more interested in looking, in watching what happens and recording it, than in being involved in the action. Or so it seems to me. I’d be interested to know what you think.

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