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Water -- Philip Larkin

       
(Poem #178) Water
If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

Going to church
Would entail a fording
To dry, different clothes;

My litany would employ
Images of sousing,
A furious devout drench,

And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.
-- Philip Larkin
Yesterday was O-bon, one of several Shinto festivals that grace the
Japanese calendar.

That, in itself, is not a particularly interesting fact, except insofar
as it motivated my choice of today's poem. You see, one of the motifs of
the O-bon celebration is the purity and power of water, and I got to
thinking about how so many religions do, in fact, use water as part of
their litany, as a 'furious devout drench'. From Holi in India to O-bon
to the Christian baptism ceremony, water (with all its attendant
symbolism) has a central role in many rituals and beliefs.

Interesting and thought-provoking, but what does it have to do with
poetry? Not much, I'm afraid :-)

thomas.

PS. In case you thought this was free verse, do note the rhythm of the
stressesthe effect is to build up to a quiet yet
definite conclusion with wonderfully restrained elegance.

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