Philip Larkin

At Grass

The eye can hardly pick them out From the cold shade they shelter in, Till wind distresses tail and main; Then one crops grass, and moves about - The other seeming to look on - And stands anonymous again Yet fifteen years ago, perhaps Two dozen distances surficed To fable them : faint afternoons Of Cups and Stakes and Handicaps, Whereby their names were artificed To inlay faded, classic Junes - Silks at the start : against the sky Numbers and parasols : outside, Squadrons of empty cars, and heat, And littered grass : then the long cry Hanging unhushed till it subside To stop-press columns on the street. Do memories plague their ears like flies? They shake their heads. Dusk brims the shadows. Summer by summer all stole away, The starting-gates, the crowd and cries - All but the unmolesting meadows. Almanacked, their names live; they Have slipped their names, and stand at ease, Or gallop for what must be joy, And not a fieldglass sees them home, Or curious stop-watch prophesies : Only the grooms, and the grooms boy, With bridles in the evening come.

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