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Money -- Philip Larkin

Guest poem submitted by Mike Christie:
(Poem #1330) Money
 Quarterly, is it, money reproaches me:
    'Why do you let me lie here wastefully?
 I am all you never had of goods and sex.
    You could get them still by writing a few cheques.'

 So I look at others, what they do with theirs:
    They certainly don't keep it upstairs.
 By now they've a second house and car and wife:
    Clearly money has something to do with life

 - In fact, they've a lot in common, if you enquire:
    You can't put off being young until you retire,
 And however you bank your screw, the money you save
    Won't in the end buy you more than a shave.

 I listen to money singing. It's like looking down
    From long French windows at a provincial town,
 The slums, the canal, the churches ornate and mad
    In the evening sun. It is intensely sad.
-- Philip Larkin
A couple of notes: "bank your screw" refers to putting your wages in the
bank; this is British slang and no longer current.  And the "shave"
referred to is the shave you get from the mortician when you are dead,
to make you look good in the coffin.

There have been quite a few Larkin poems on Minstrels, but several of my
favourites are missing, including this one.  I like a lot of things
about Larkin -- technically he is always flawless, and he can make the
most intricate rhyme scheme flow effortlessly.  But most of all I like
his ability to find an image that is unreasonably effective.  In this
poem it's the last verse.  I wish I knew why the town seems such an
apposite image for the disease of money.  And "ornate and mad"; and the
last four words; both give a powerful emotional kick that I don't fully
understand but that have stayed with me since I first read this twenty
years ago.

Mike.

[Minstrels Links]

Philip Larkin:
Poem #178, Water
Poem #73, I Remember, I Remember
Poem #100, Days
Poem #254, The North Ship
Poem #502, MCMXIV
Poem #544, Toads
Poem #756, An Arundel Tomb
Poem #793, No Road
Poem #886, Maiden Name
Poem #1070, Wires

(Of these, 'Toads' has a similarish sort of theme)

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