If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Larkin about

As it's a Sunday morning and it's tipping down with rain, I am staying indoors. The bikes are getting a free wash, and the grass I mowed yesterday (phew) is getting a drenching. The last two lines of a Philip Larkin poem have been buzzing in my head for the last few days. I'm not sure why - perhaps there's a resonance with Life In General and my brain is channeling all sorts of suitable literature down my stream-of-consciousness intake.

I love Larkin. Like an expert carpenter, he seems to be able to hit a nail with such well-judged force that it drives home in one blow. No wasted words, ever - just a sense of "why didn't I think that?"


The widest prairies have electric fences,
For though old cattle know they must not stray
Young steers are always scenting purer water
Not here but anywhere. Beyond the wires

Leads them to blunder up against the wires
Whose muscle-shredding violence gives no quarter.
Young steers become old cattle from that day,
Electric limits to their widest senses.

Philip Larkin

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