Wherein I attempt to read you a poem, but am interrupted by Time, Death, the Cosmos, and Wailing Guitars

Watch this video, fearless reader:


This is a five stanza poem but for some reason today, WordPress is not listening to me when I tell it to put spaces in.  So this looks like one long unbroken poem.  Also, of you are a glutton for punishment and would like to see me read the entire poem (without the long intro) that is viewable by clicking here.

by Philip Larkin

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
—The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.
This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.
And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.
Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

2 Responses to “Wherein I attempt to read you a poem, but am interrupted by Time, Death, the Cosmos, and Wailing Guitars”

  1. Cory Warchola Says:

    Nope. Sorry, I couldn’t even get through this. You are one of my favorite poets, and certainly one of my tippy-top favorite people ever, as you well know. But this vid hit a sour note for me. One cannot simply add amature video to improve upon a Larkin reading. Those are some very big shoes to fill. However, I’m still glad I watched most of it. It’s rare that we disagree on art. This gives us something real to talk about. This vid was risky. What was your thought process?

    • sethdellinger Says:

      Nope. Not gonna talk about it. I appreciate your right to not like it, and appreciate the comment, but it’s going to pretty much stand on its own.

      (fyi, I own up to my amateur status in all ways, all the time…and even with that, throwing in the term “amature (sic) video” felt like an overly aggressive critique tactic.)

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