Monday, August 2, 2010

Philip Larkin: "There Is An Evening Coming In"

I recently posted Philip Larkin's poem "Continuing to Live," which contains the line:  "On that green evening when our death begins."  That line brings to mind another poem by Larkin on the same theme:

                    Going

There is an evening coming in
Across the fields, one never seen before,
That lights no lamps.

Silken it seems at a distance, yet
When it is drawn up over the knees and breast
It brings no comfort.

Where has the tree gone, that locked
Earth to the sky?  What is under my hands,
That I cannot feel?

What loads my hands down?

Philip Larkin, Collected Poems (Faber and Faber/The Marvell Press 1988).  "Going" was written in 1946, when Larkin was 24 years old.  (Cheerful lad, wasn't he?)  "Continuing to Live" was written in 1954 -- Larkin reached his middle-age crisis sooner than most of us, it seems.

                              Graham Sutherland, "Cray Fields" (1920)

And (suggesting, I fear, some sort of crotchet or pathology on my part) "Going" always reminds me of "Coming":  another poem about evening, and one that shows Larkin's joyous side (he did  have one, you know).  (Well, perhaps joyous is too strong a word.)

               Coming

On longer evenings,
Light, chill and yellow,
Bathes the serene
Foreheads of houses.
A thrush sings,
Laurel-surrounded
In the deep bare garden,
Its fresh-peeled voice
Astonishing the brickwork.
It will be spring soon,
It will be spring soon --
And I, whose childhood
Is a forgotten boredom,
Feel like a child
Who comes on a scene
Of adult reconciling,
And can understand nothing
But the unusual laughter,
And starts to be happy.

Ibid.  "Coming" was written in 1950.

                            Graham Sutherland, "Wood Interior" (1928)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

the poet describes that winter is coming to an end and spring is about to arrive.

Stephen Pentz said...

Anonymous: Thank you very much for visiting and commenting.

nsmurty said...

This is a fabulous site I chanced upon today and it is so lovely and informative. I am an indian running my blog for over a year presenting some of the best poems from English translated into my mother tongue Telugu, the second largest spoken language in India. Can I take some of the poems I like here for translation to my blog, of course, giving due credit to your blog in mine?

Stephen Pentz said...

nsmurty: thank you very much for visiting and for your kind words. Your blog sounds interesting. Of course, you are welcome to use the poems -- they belong to the poets, not to me. Best of luck, and thank you again.