Saturday, May 16, 2015

TC: Philip Larkin: High Windows


Waiting Room for the Beyond

Waiting Room for the Beyond: John Register, 1988 (Modernism Gallery, San Francisco)

When I see a couple of kids
And guess he’s fucking her and she’s   
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,   
I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives --  
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the long slide

To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if   
Anyone looked at me, forty years back,   
And thought, That’ll be the life;
No God any more, or sweating in the dark

About hell and that, or having to hide   
What you think of the priest. He
And his lot will all go down the long slide 
Like free bloody birds. And immediately
Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:   
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.
Philip Larkin (1922-1985): High Windows, 12 February 1967, from High Windows, 1974

The Fear of Ghosts: Balthus (Baltusz Klossowski de Rola) (1908–2001),1933, oil on canvas (Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington)
Lady Abdy: Balthus (Baltusz Klossowski de Rola) (1908–2001), 1935, oil on canvas


vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Fucking good poem.

TC said...

Fucking right it is.

VANITAS said...

I love Larkin! And Balthus! Inspired combination, Tom. Larkin, I feel, has not gotten his due, at least on this side of the pond, at least among the most forward-looking or -listening advocates of poesy. But he's damn good. I had a big Larkin phase, begun when I found myself haunting his old stomping grounds - St. John's College, Ox. I love his two early novels as well - Jill and A Girl In Winter. I once wrote that Lewis Warsh's fiction was on a level with Larkin's, and Lewis said, I've got to read his novels!