Friday, 6 May 2022

'The little lives of earth and form...'

 On this day in 1977, Philip Larkin wrote one of those tender little lyrics that are among the most cherishable of his late works –

The little lives of earth and form,
Of finding food, and keeping warm,
    Are not like ours, and yet
A kinship lingers nonetheless:
We hanker for the homeliness
    Of den, and hole, and set.

And this identity we feel
– Perhaps not right, perhaps not real –
    Will link us constantly;
I see the rock, the clay, the chalk,
The flattened grass, the swaying stalk,
    And it is you I see.

Here are two more, written in February 1979, short, concentrated and almost sweet, the work of a poet whose best works might be behind him (apart from 'Aubade'), but who is still a master craftsman –

New eyes each year
Find old books here,
And new books, too,
Old eyes renew;
So youth and age
Like ink and page
In this house join,
Minting new coin. 

The daily things we do
For money or for fun
Can disappear like dew
Or harden and live on.
Strange reciprocity:
The circumstance we cause
In time gives rise to us,
Becomes our memory.

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