Philip Larkin

Letter To A Friend About Girls

After comparing lives with you for years I see how I’ve been losing: all the while I’ve met a different gauge of girl from yours. Grant that, and all the rest makes sense as well: My mortification at your pushovers, Your mystification at my fecklessness— Everything proves we play in separate leagues. Before, I couldn’t credit your intrigues Because I thought all girls the same, but yes, You bag real birds, though they’re from alien covers. Now I believe your staggering skirmishes In train, tutorial and telephone booth, The wife whose husband watched away matches While she behaved so badly in a bath, And all the rest who beckon from that world Described on Sundays only, where to want Is straightway to be wanted, seek to find, And no one gets upset or seems to mind At what you say to them, or what you don’t: A world where all the nonsense is annulled, And beauty is accepted slang for yes. But equally, haven’t you noticed mine? They have their world, not much compared with yours, But where they work, and age, and put off men By being unattractive, or too shy, Or having morals—anyhow, none give in: Some of them go quite rigid with disgust At anything but marriage: that’s all lust And so not worth considering; they begin Fetching your hat, so that you have to lie Till everything’s confused: you mine away For months, both of you, till the collapse comes Into remorse, tears, and wondering why You ever start such boring barren games —But there, don’t mind my saeva indignatio: I’m happier now I’ve got things clear, although It’s strange we never meet each other’s sort: There should be equal chances, I’d’ve thought. Must finish now. One day perhaps I’ll know What makes you be so lucky in your ratio —One of those ‘more things’, could it be? Horatio.

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