How Distant

Philip Larkin 1922 (Coventry) – 1985 (Hull)

How distant, the departure of young men
Down valleys, or watching
The green shore past the salt-white cordage
Rising and falling,

Cattlemen, or carpenters, or keen
Simply to get away
From married villages before morning,
Melodeons play


On tiny decks past fraying cliffs of water
Or late at night
Sweet under the differently-swung stars,
When the chance sight

Of a girl doing her laundry in the steerage
Ramifies endlessly.
This is being young,
Assumption of the startled century

Like new store clothes,
The huge decisions printed out by our feet
Inventing where they tread,
The random windows conjuring a street.
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Submitted by Robert_Haigh on June 10, 2020

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Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin was born in 1922 and grew up in Coventry, England. He earned his BA from St John's College, Oxford, and finished with First Class Honours in English. In 1955 he became Librarian of the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull, a post he held until his death in 1985. He was the best-loved poet of his generation, and the recipient of innumerable honours, including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. more…

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    "How Distant" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 1 Dec. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/53614/how-distant>.

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