Sunday, 25 March 2007

For Myself, Crushed By Ingsoc, & Anyone Else

Toads


Philip Larkin

Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?
Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off?

Six days of the week it soils
With its sickening poison -
Just for paying a few bills!
That's out of proportion.

Lots of folk live on their wits:
Lecturers, lispers,
Losels, loblolly-men, louts-
They don't end as paupers;

Lots of folk live up lanes
With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines-
they seem to like it.

Their nippers have got bare feet,
Their unspeakable wives
Are skinny as whippets - and yet
No one actually starves.

Ah, were I courageous enough
To shout Stuff your pension!
But I know, all too well, that's the stuff
That dreams are made on:

For something sufficiently toad-like
Squats in me, too;
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
And cold as snow,

And will never allow me to blarney
My way of getting
The fame and the girl and the money
All at one sitting.

I don't say, one bodies the other
One's spiritual truth;
But I do say it's hard to lose either,
When you have both.

12 comments:

Colin Campbell said...

I am no poetry fan generally, but that was luverly. Croak Croak. Poetry is obviously underrated in my book.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

We did Larkin for GCSE. Wasn't a big fan, but this is an interesting piece.
Is this a sentiment you relate to?

The Tin Drummer said...

uh..kind of. I'm not quite as misanthropic as Larkin, but give me 20 years and I won't be far off.

David Anthony said...

Larkin is too much of a bigot for my liking

The Tin Drummer said...

I guess you don't read Kingsley Amis either then....

David Anthony said...

I wouldnt say he was a bigot

james higham said...

Do I get the impression you don't like work, TD?

james higham said...

I get the impression you don't like work too much, TD.

The Tin Drummer said...

Correct on both counts, James.

I don't really judge Larkin on his opinions; he didn't kill anyone, unlike the Soviet regime that Eric Hobsbawm (for example) loves so much: and High Windows, whatever Larkin's views, is great art and "The Ages of Extremes" is not.

The Tin Drummer said...

Jeez my last comment was rubbish, wrong and badly argued. In any case I still don't judge Larkin on his views. For me his art stands above it. If High Windows had been full of Nazi poems that might be different.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Lawrence might be a kind of inverted parallel. Objectionable worldview, but still alluring. Larkin's worldviw ws very different, but perhaps the same holds.

The Tin Drummer said...

Aha, CBI - you out me as a hypocrite. Yes, I loathe Lawrence, partly for his turgid and downright crap novels (Lady Chatterley - good God) but also for his near-Fascist philosophy. That probably comes from being forced to read his stupid essays rather than actually giving them a lot of thought though. I think it comes as much from liking Larkin's art and being willing to excuse him bigotry and other all too human failings - and not liking Lawrence's art. If I ever had the patience to read Pound's Cantos I'd make a decision there too. I decided in favour of Eliot many, many years ago. But frankly recent news that Chaucer may have commited a rape is distressing; I've always pictured him as a humanist's humanist.