Guest poem submitted by Vikram Doctor:
(Poem #793) No Road
Since we agreed to let the road between us Fall to disuse, And bricked our gates up, planted trees to screen us, And turned all time's eroding agents loose, Silence, and space, and strangers - our neglect Has not had much effect. Leaves drift unswept, perhaps; grass creeps unmown; No other change. So clear it stands, so little overgrown, Walking that way tonight would not seem strange, And still would be followed. A little longer, And time would be the stronger, Drafting a world where no such road will run From you to me; To watch that world come up like a cold sun, Rewarding others, is my liberty. Not to prevent it is my will's fulfillment. Willing it, my ailment.
This is not one of Larkin's best known poems, and I've always wondered why. In its quiet way it's one of the saddest and most haunting poems I know. The first two verses capture very precisely the way that even after a really deep relationship ends one has the feeling that one could just turn it on again. It's wishful thinking maybe, but it's only after things have ended that you realise how deeply the relationship has delved into you, and you feel that with no problem you could just forget all the problems and go down that road again. But then there's the last verse and this is one of the bleakest bits of verse I know. Because it acknowledges that the road will never be opened again, and the reason for that is not the many superficial reasons you ended it for, but because of you. Because you did it, and you did it because you could do it. And that is the way people behave, even though that is what is wrong with them. Vikram. [Minstrels Links] Poems by Philip Larkin: Poem #73, "I Remember, I Remember" Poem #100, "Days" Poem #178, "Water" Poem #254, "The North Ship" Poem #502, "MCMXIV" Poem #544, "Toads" Poem #756, "An Arundel Tomb" The first and fourth of these have biographies attached; the second and sixth have external critical commentary, by George Macbeth and Gary Geddes, respectively. "Deprivation is to me what daffodils are to Wordsworth." -- Philip Larkin.