Friday, January 14, 2011

"Days Are Where We Live": Derek Mahon And Philip Larkin

I was of a mind to begin this post with an apostrophe to human folly.  But then I went for an afternoon walk in a blustery mist above the waters (grey and white-capped) of Puget Sound.  The wind roared (what else?) in the intricate and empty branches of a row of trees.  I realized that the folly was all mine.  Who among us is not enmeshed and implicated?  Better to think of the days.    

               Dream Days

'When  you stop to consider
The days spent dreaming of a future
And say then, that was my life.'

For the days are long --
From the first milk van
To the last shout in the night,
An eternity.  But the weeks go by
Like birds; and the years, the years
Fly past anti-clockwise
Like clock hands in a bar mirror.

Derek Mahon, Selected Poems (Viking/The Gallery Press 1991).

                  John Constable, "Cloud Study, September 25, 1822"

               Days

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin, The Whitsun Weddings (Faber and Faber 1964).

                          John Constable, "Cloud Study, July 28, 1822"

2 comments:

pomposa said...

Glad to see Larkin came wading to your rescue during your soul searching above Puget Sound – No better man!

Stephen Pentz said...

Nice to hear from you again, pomposa.

Yes, Larkin often seems to come in handy -- he is an antidote to pretence and/or whinging (on my part). He says: 'Oh, come off it' or something along those lines.