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No Road -- Philip Larkin

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.
-- Philip Larkin
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

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

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.


[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,

"Deprivation is to me what daffodils are to Wordsworth."
        -- Philip Larkin.

13 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Johnseasy said...


I used to think that this poem was a sensitive expression of the feelings of
some-one whose relationship had broken down.

Now, I cannot see anything more in it than self-pity.



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Excellent, I am a young poet so I still learning techniques about this art. Writing a poem is all about observing the world within your thoughts or around your environment, specially if you're a mass... You can write about anything, from love to the rusty gate at the old farm. As long as you are enjoying it or finding a release of tension through it, you're on the right track. 23jj

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