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Maiden Name -- Philip Larkin

Guest poem submitted by Priscilla Jebaraj:
(Poem #886) Maiden Name
 Marrying left your maiden name disused.
 Its five light sounds no longer mean your face,
 Your voice, and all your variants of grace;
 For since you were so thankfully confused
 By law with someone else, you cannot be
 Semantically the same as that young beauty:
 It was of her that these two words were used.

 Now it's a phrase applicable to no one,
 Lying just where you left it, scattered through
 Old lists, old programmes, a school prize or two
 Packets of letters tied with tartan ribbon -
 Then is it scentless, weightless, strengthless, wholly
 Untruthful? Try whispering it slowly.
 No, it means you. Or, since you're past and gone,

 It means what we feel now about you then:
 How beautiful you were, and near, and young,
 So vivid, you might still be there among
 Those first few days, unfingermarked again.
 So your old name shelters our faithfulness,
 Instead of losing shape and meaning less
 With your depreciating luggage laden.
-- Philip Larkin
I like everyday poems too, and I thought of this one when I read Night
Vision. I guess it's not really an everyday poem -- giving up your maiden
name doesn't happen everyday! -- but the images used are everyday. This
isn't a profound reflection on the loss of identity. Or maybe it is; except
that big words aren't used. Instead, there are simple, everyday pictures of
school prizes and tartan ribbon. This doesn't seem a poem with a forceful
message to propagate. But maybe it does just that, in its everyday way.

Priscilla.

[Minstrels Links]

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
Poem #793, No Road

27 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

vivian said...

I can't remember if you've already run it and things being what they are
(with the bulk of my family in New York and Washington, I haven't got the
patience to look) but if you haven't -- this might be the right time for
Dylan Thomas' "Refusal to Mourn...," which is so wonderfuly angry and
obstinate in a tragic situation.

Or maybe what is needed now is rather the music of everyday, for which
thanks, to soothe us.

Vivian

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