January 01, 2008

More on the pleasures of forgetfulness: The Winter Palace by Philip Larkin, a dead librarian.

Most people know more as they get older:
I give all that the cold shoulder.

I spent my second quarter-century
Losing what I had learnt at university

And refusing to take in what had happened since.
Now I know none of the names in the public prints,

And am starting to give offence by forgetting faces
And swearing I’ve never been in certain places.

It will be worth it, if in the end I manage
To blank out whatever it is that is doing the damage.

Then there will be nothing I know.
My mind will fold into itself, like fields, like snow.


Posted by Jerome Doolittle at January 01, 2008 12:59 PM
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For anyone who understands poets:

Why do you think he dragged out the third-to-last line instead of just saying "...to blank out whatever is doing the damage" and being done with it?

Posted by: Martha Bridegam on January 1, 2008 3:25 PM

Don't know much 'bout poetry, but... Could it be that he didn't want to end on a closed sound, a harsh consonant sound that can't be drawn out? I know this is a problem in writing song lyrics, since the singer can't just tail off melodiously as s/he could with an open vowel sound like snow. Sorry, but that's the best I can come up with.

Posted by: CCRyder on January 1, 2008 4:33 PM

Erm, except I meant the part in the middle of the line: "whatever it is that is..." instead of just "whatever is...".

(Or am I being dense here?)

Posted by: Martha Bridegam on January 1, 2008 4:47 PM

Martha I'd say his version implies that he doesn't know whatever it is, but your revised version might imply that he knows but can't forget.

But I'd rather read Breadfruit.

Although Nov. 26, 2004 and August 10, 2006 were just as inspiring as today.

In the age of the internet, things may be forgotten, or one may sense a vague recollection but not know when, but it's hard to lose touch completely.

Posted by: on January 1, 2008 5:38 PM

I forgot to sign that last comment.

Posted by: Buck on January 1, 2008 5:44 PM
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