Philip Larkin


Swerving east, from rich industrial shadows And traffic all night north; swerving through fields Too thin and thistled to be called meadows, And now and then a harsh—named halt, that shields Workmen at dawn; swerving to solitude Of skies and scarecrows, haystacks, hares and pheasants, And the widening river’s slow presence, The piled gold clouds, the shining gull—marked mud, Gathers to the surprise of a large town: Here domes and statues, spires and cranes cluster Beside grain—scattered streets, barge—crowded water, And residents from raw estates, brought down The dead straight miles by stealing flat—faced trolleys, Push through plate—glass swing doors to their desires — Cheap suits, red kitchen—ware, sharp shoes, iced lollies, Electric mixers, toasters, washers, driers— A cut—price crowd, urban yet simple, dwelling Where only salesmen and relations come Within a terminate and fishy—smelling Pastoral of ships up streets, the slave museum, Tattoo—shops, consulates, grim head—scarfed wives; And out beyond its mortgaged half—built edges Fast—shadowed wheat—fields, running high as hedges, Isolate villages, where removed lives Loneliness clarifies. Here silence stands Like heat. Here leaves unnoticed thicken, Hidden weeds flower, neglected waters quicken, Luminously—peopled air ascends; And past the poppies bluish neutral distance Ends the land suddenly beyond a beach Of shapes and shingle. Here is unfenced existence: Facing the sun, untalkative, out of reach.

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