millionreasons: (absinthe)
Because everyone who hasn't gone to Barcelona seems to have been to a wedding this Whitsun:

The Whitsun Weddings
                        
That Whitsun, I was late getting away:
Not till about
One-twenty on the sunlit Saturday
Did my three-quarters-empty train pull out,
All windows down, all cushions hot, all sense
Of being in a hurry gone. We ran
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence
The river’s level drifting breadth began,
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet.

All afternoon, through the tall heat that slept
For miles inland,
A slow and stopping curve southwards we kept.
Wide farms went by, short-shadowed cattle, and
Canals with floatings of industrial froth;
A hothouse flashed uniquely: hedges dipped
And rose: and now and then a smell of grass
Displaced the reek of buttoned carriage-cloth
Until the next town, new and nondescript,
Approached with acres of dismantled cars.

At first, I didn’t notice what a noise
The weddings made
Each station that we stopped at: sun destroys
The interest of what’s happening in the shade,
And down the long cool platforms whoops and skirls
I took for porters larking with the mails,
And went on reading. Once we started, though,
We passed them, grinning and pomaded, girls
In parodies of fashion, heels and veils,
All posed irresolutely, watching us go,

As if out on the end of an event
Waving goodbye
To something that survived it. Struck, I leaned
More promptly out next time, more curiously,
And saw it all again in different terms:
The fathers with broad belts under their suits
And seamy foreheads; mothers loud and fat;
An uncle shouting smut; and then the perms,
The nylon gloves and jewellery-substitutes,
The lemons, mauves, and olive-ochres that

Marked off the girls unreally from the rest.
Yes, from cafés
And banquet-halls up yards, and bunting-dressed
Coach-party annexes, the wedding-days
Were coming to an end. All down the line
Fresh couples climbed aboard: the rest stood round;
The last confetti and advice were thrown,
And, as we moved, each face seemed to define
Just what it saw departing: children frowned
At something dull; fathers had never known

Success so huge and wholly farcical;
The women shared
The secret like a happy funeral;
While girls, gripping their handbags tighter, stared
At a religious wounding. Free at last,
And loaded with the sum of all they saw,
We hurried towards London, shuffling gouts of steam.
Now fields were building-plots, and poplars cast
Long shadows over major roads, and for
Some fifty minutes, that in time would seem

Just long enough to settle hats and say
I nearly died,
A dozen marriages got under way.
They watched the landscape, sitting side by side
—An Odeon went past, a cooling tower,
And someone running up to bowl—and none
Thought of the others they would never meet
Or how their lives would all contain this hour.
I thought of London spread out in the sun,
Its postal districts packed like squares of wheat:

There we were aimed. And as we raced across
Bright knots of rail
Past standing Pullmans, walls of blackened moss
Came close, and it was nearly done, this frail
Travelling coincidence; and what it held
Stood ready to be loosed with all the power
That being changed can give. We slowed again,
And as the tightened brakes took hold, there swelled
A sense of falling, like an arrow-shower
Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming rain.
millionreasons: (Default)
Lovely article on loving Larkin here, in the FT of all things. I think Larkin's themes of loss and disappointment and life not matching up to expectations are more easily read in one's 30s and 40s ("And age. And then the only end of age") than as an eager young whippersnapper. Wwhat this says about me who's liked a bit of Pippy since I was 17 or thereabouts, I don't know. Morrissey's mordant humour struck me in the same way. It's a northern thing.

But! Larkin changed at Sheffield, not Hull, and ate an awful pie (Pumpkins did not exist in the '60s). This is not just pedantry, it's important because the line at Hull goes one way; at Sheffield there are criss-crossing railway lines which Larkin used as his metaphor for lives diverging, people choosing different ways. You couldn't do that at Hull. You could do the fish trail or visit the slavery museum instead, but not look at railway tracks.

One day, I will live in Hull.

Dockery and son
'Dockery was junior to you, Wasn't he?' said the Dean. 'His son's here now.'
Death-suited, visitant, I nod. 'And do
You keep in touch with-' Or remember how
Black-gowned, unbreakfasted, and still half-tight
We used to stand before that desk, to give
'Our version' of 'these incidents last night'?
I try the door of where I used to live:

Locked. The lawn spreads dazzlingly wide.
A known bell chimes. I catch my train, ignored.
Canal and clouds and colleges subside
Slowly from view. But Dockery, good Lord,
Anyone up today must have been born
In '43, when I was twenty-one.
If he was younger, did he get this son
At nineteen, twenty? Was he that withdrawn

High-collared public-schoolboy, sharing rooms
With Cartwright who was killed? Well, it just shows
How much . . . How little . . . Yawning, I suppose
I fell asleep, waking at the fumes
And furnace-glares of Sheffield, where I changed,
And ate an awful pie, and walked along
The platform to its end to see the ranged
Joining and parting lines reflect a strong

Unhindered moon. To have no son, no wife,
No house or land still seemed quite natural.
Only a numbness registered the shock
Of finding out how much had gone of life,
How widely from the others. Dockery, now:
Only nineteen, he must have taken stock
Of what he wanted, and been capable
Of . . . No, that's not the difference: rather, how

Convinced he was he should be added to!
Why did he think adding meant increase?
To me it was dilution. Where do these
Innate assumptions come from? Not from what
We think truest, or most want to do:
Those warp tight-shut, like doors. They're more a style
Our lives bring with them: habit for a while,
Suddenly they harden into all we've got

And how we got it; looked back on, they rear
Like sand-clouds, thick and close, embodying
For Dockery a son, for me nothing,
Nothing with all a son's harsh patronage.
Life is first boredom, then fear.
Whether or not we use it, it goes,
And leaves what something hidden from us chose,
And age, and then the only end of age.
millionreasons: (Default)
This article is slightly annoying. Most people are complicated, contradictory, inconsistent beasts. It's quite possible that Philip "Pippy" Larkin could have at the same time been a misogynist and a philogynist, a generous miser, a funny man who wrote optimistic poems like the wonderful The Trees and a miserable old get who opined that Life is first boredom, then fear, and yet at the same time to have a northern Morrissey-esque grimly ironic sense of humour ("Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth"). He was a dreadful Tory who nonetheless wrote a critique of capitalism (he seemed to have misunderstood Thatcherism, saying that she represented 'Recognising that if you haven't got the money for something you can't have it'). Surely people are loved despite and because of their faults -  I hate the notion of The Large Cool Store (that women are these strange, other worldly creatures), but I love the phrasing of the poem (and who else would write some verse about a branch of M&S?)

It seems ridiculous for the article to say: Larkin is this, or no, Larkin is that....but I liked this anecdote:

The funeral was held on a day so foggy that Kingsley Amis and his ex-wife, Hilly, mistook Newark for Doncaster, and got off their train too soon (they were rescued by Andrew Motion, who yelled at them to get back on)

Sunny Days

Mar. 2nd, 2006 09:18 am
millionreasons: (Default)
What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

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