I’m conscious that of the five or six Larkin poems that I consider to be truly excellent, I have posted all except this one. And as it’s Hull City of Culture year and there are going to be all sorts of Larkin events, I thought I ought to rectify that omission.
It’s another miserable one, of course.
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 allowed. 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 (1950)