Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dawn serenade.
Philip 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 howAnd where and when I shall myself die.Arid interrogation: yet the dreadOf 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, timeTorn off unused -- nor wretchedly becauseAn only life can take so long to climbClear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;But at the total emptiness for ever,The sure extinction that we travel toAnd 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 afraidNo trick dispels. Religion used to try,That vast moth-eaten musical brocadeCreated to pretend we never die,And specious stuff that says No rational beingCan fear a thing it will not feel, not seeingThat 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 chillThat slows each impulse down to indecision.Most things may never happen: this one will,And realisation of it rages outIn furnace-fear when we are caught withoutPeople or drink. Courage is no good:It means not scaring others. Being braveLets 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 ringIn 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.


Blogger PEA said...

Philip Larkin was certainly a gifted English poet and novelist. I've read a few of his pieces and always noticed that death was a recurring theme and subject in his work. Did you ever read his poem "The Whitsun Weddings"? I also read his last book "High Windows". I hadn't thought of him for a long time so thanks for reminding me with this poem:-) Hope you're having a great day!!

4:44 PM  

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