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Read 'em and weep > An Arundel Tomb by Philip Larkin

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message 1: by Donald (new)

Donald (DonF) | 183 comments An Arundel Tomb

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd -
The little dogs under their feet.

Such plainness of the pre-baroque
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.

They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigy
Was just a detail friends would see:
A sculptor's sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.

They would no guess how early in
Their supine stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly they

Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the grass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-littered ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,

Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only an attitude remains:

Time has transfigures them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.

Philip Larkin

This poem has its own Wiki, see below what the tomb looks like, helpful in appreciating the poem.


message 2: by Donald (new)

Donald (DonF) | 183 comments A footnote to this poem. I have a poetry collection called "The Muse Strikes Back: A poetic response from Women to Men." A lot of interesting "answer" poems to famous male written poems. There is one called "My Night with Philip Larken." by Rachel Loden. Very interesting.

message 3: by S. (new)

S. (SarahJ) | 1326 comments Mod
Is that in one of Rachel Loden's books (as far as you know)? I think you did read Dick of the Dead, right?

message 4: by Donald (new)

Donald (DonF) | 183 comments Sarah, I honestly can't say, or check, since they were both Interlibrary loan books. I'll see if Amazon might have a list of contents. BTW,"The Muse Strikes back" is a nice collection. She also has something in an Anthology of Poems inspired by Wallace Stevens. Don't remember the name of that. I reviewed both her books, here.

message 5: by Donald (new)

Donald (DonF) | 183 comments Here it is: Visiting Wallace : poems inspired by the life and work of Wallace Stevens / edited by Dennis Barone and James Finnegan

message 6: by Donald (new)

Donald (DonF) | 183 comments Sarah - page 43 of Hotel Imperium for the Larkin poem.


message 7: by Krista (new)

Krista | 3 comments This is one of my favorite poems.

message 8: by Donald (new)

Donald (DonF) | 183 comments Ditto!

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