For the day

November 8, 2015 at 11:16 am (Rosie B)

Someone on twitter pointed to this, and though I’ve read it scores of times, it still gives the authentic shiver:-


MCMXIV (1964)

Phillip Larkin

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day;

And the countryside not caring:
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat’s restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word – the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.


  1. februarycallendar said,

    One thing that’s dated here is the allusion to pubs opening all day as something from the past (of course they can again now, but the restricted licensing hours introduced for WW1 stuck for a very long time … until 1988 in terms of afternoon closing)

  2. Jim Denham said,

    MCMXIV: proof that, sometimes, not-very-nice people can produce powerful, moving, humane, work.

  3. Jim Denham said,

    The ending of the 1930 version of ‘All Quiet On The Western Front’:

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