Sunday, October 18, 2009

Poem of the Week: "Talking in Bed," by Philip Larkin

When I am looking for a good poem, or rather a poem to love and squeeze the life out of, I tend to make the decision based on the ending. If I read the final few lines of a poem and it feels like someone has punched me in the gut, I know I've found a winner. Good endings do many things at once: they end with an image or idea that's memorable, they tie together everything that has come before, and they leave you thinking deeper and wanting more. One of the best end-liners of all time is Philip Larkin. I have mentioned Philip Larkin on here a couple times already, and I apologize if I sound like a broken record, but he is just so incredible. His rhyme and meter manages to be complex and simple at the same time, and he buries nuggets of philosophy in images of common, even mundane, tasks and descriptions.

So, here we have "Talking in Bed," my single most-favorite Larkin poem in a long list of favorite Larkin poems (and quite possibly my second favorite poem of all time in all of poetry). It's deceptively simple, and yet so beautiful and sad and honest. And those last two lines: Killer gut-punchers. Enjoy!

Talking in Bed, by Philip Larkin

Talking in bed ought to be easiest,
Lying together there goes back so far,
An emblem of two people being honest.

Yet more and more time passes silently.
Outside, the wind's incomplete unrest
Builds and disperses clouds about the sky,

And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation

It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.

No comments:

Post a Comment