Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Friday Night In The Royal Station Hotel"

The combination (in my previous post) of Philip Larkin and a scene set in an English hotel brought to mind one of my favorite Larkin poems.  I have never stayed in a Royal Station Hotel, but I have stayed in an American hotel or two that reminded me of the mood conjured up by Larkin.  The hotel stationery is a lovely touch:  who among us has not been seduced by the romantic redolence of hotel stationery?  (Even, perhaps, in the Hull Royal Station Hotel.)    

        Friday Night in the Royal Station Hotel

Light spreads darkly downwards from the high
Clusters of lights over empty chairs
That face each other, coloured differently.
Through open doors, the dining-room declares
A larger loneliness of knives and glass
And silence laid like carpet.  A porter reads
An unsold evening paper.  Hours pass,
And all the salesmen have gone back to Leeds,
Leaving full ashtrays in the Conference Room.

In shoeless corridors, the lights burn.  How
Isolated, like a fort, it is --
The headed paper, made for writing home
(If home existed) letters of exile:  Now
Night comes on.  Waves fold behind villages.

High Windows (Faber and Faber 1974).

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