Thursday, March 29, 2007

Next, please

Always too eager for the future, we
Pick up bad habits of expectancy.
Something is always approaching; every day
Till then we say,
Watching from a bluff the tiny, clear
Sparkling armada of promises draw near.

How slow they are! And how much time they waste,
Refusing to make haste!
Yet still they leave us holding wretched stalks
Of disappointment, for, though nothing balks
Each big approach, leaning with brasswork prinked,
Each rope distinct,
Flagged, and the figurehead with golden tits
Arching our way, it never anchors; it's
No sooner present than it turns to past.
Right to the last
We think each one will heave to and unload
All good into our lives, all we are owed
For waiting so devoutly and so long.

But we are wrong:
Only one ship is seeking us, a black-
Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back
A huge and birdless silence. In her wake
No waters breed or break.

Philip Larkin


LottieP said...

I love this poem: though it has such a morose sting in the tail (typical of Larkin), I love its audacity (the rhyming of "tits" with "it's") and the simple beauty of the imagery ("the tiny, clear/Sparkling armada of promises"). The message is pretty clear (though the old misanthrope never took his own advice): you might as well enjoy being alive right now.

Claire said...

Ah, tis indeed a heartwarming poem.