Friday, February 10, 2006


I like this poem by Philip Larkin. I heard it first at an OU Summer school.


Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?
Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off?

Six days of the week it soils
With its sickening poison -
Just for paying a few bills!
That's out of proportion.

Lots of folk live on their wits:
Lecturers, lispers,
Losers, loblolly-men, louts-
They don't end as paupers;

Lots of folk live up lanes
With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines-
They seem to like it.

Their nippers have got bare feet,
Their unspeakable wives
Are skinny as whippets - and yet
No one actually starves.

Ah, were I courageous enough
To shout, Stuff your pension!
But I know, all too well, that's the stuff
That dreams are made on:

For something sufficiently toad-like
Squats in me, too;
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
And cold as snow,

And will never allow me to blarney
My way to getting
The fame and the girl and the money
All at one sitting.

I don't say, one bodies the other
One's spiritual truth;
But I do say it's hard to lose either,
When you have both.


FBT said...

My sentiments precisely. Anyway, that Larkin had it good being a librarian. He should have tried being an accountant if he wanted to experience true spiritual ennui.

MacDuff said...

I havent been in a public library for years although I well remember them as exciting places as a child. The last time I did look there didnt seem to be much in the way of books and even they were mostly paperbacks!!. Plenty of toys for the hoards of noisey little kiddies to borrow break and maybe return though.
I would imagine the modern day Larkin wouldnt have such an easy ride as I expect the professional librarian of today is probably engaged in censoring the books. Today I hear that the BBC itself is to bring out censored versions of the Goon Show!!
We shall probably never hear the real thing again.
Straight out of George Orwells 1984.