Tuesday 17 September 2013

Anthology 7

Here's something seasonal from Philip Larkin (in The Whistun Weddings). It's sad, naturally - as poems about this particular turn of the seasons tend to be - but there is none of the sour misanthropy that is so often imputed to Larkin (and  that he often played up to in his later career). The tone is tender, wistful, elegiac - and incidentally (accidentally) the poem has its interest as social history, a snapshot of a time when 'estatefuls' of skilled working men had secure jobs, and their non-working wives had afternoons free to spend with their children. How long ago it seems...


Summer is fading:
The leaves fall in ones and twos
From trees bordering
The new recreation ground.
In the hollows of afternoons
Young mothers assemble
At swing and sandpit
Setting free their children.

Behind them, at intervals,
Stand husbands in skilled trades,
An estateful of washing,
And the albums, lettered
Our Wedding, lying
Near the television:
Before them, the wind
Is ruining their courting-places

That are still courting-places
(But the lovers are all in school),
And their children, so intent on
Finding more unripe acorns,
Expect to be taken home.
Their beauty has thickened.
Something is pushing them
To the side of their own lives.


  1. "..........their non-working wives had afternoons free to spend with their children. How long ago it seems....."

    Well, some things persist, Mr Nigeness. I went to have a look at a park on the other side of my city a few weeks ago. It has won national awards for the excellence of its provision in an area of social deprivation. I have to report that the playground (which was magnificent) was heaving with non-working mothers and their children. I don't know whether the fathers were at work though.

    Lovely series of poems, by the way. I am really enjoying them.

  2. Ah good - and glad to hear of playgrounds being enjoyed...