Larkin: on nature

First Sight

Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.

As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth's immeasurable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow
Utterly unlike the snow.



Tops heel and yaw,
Sent newly spinning:
Squirm round the floor
At the beginning,
Then draw up
Like candle flames, till
They are soundless, asleep,
Moving, yet still.
So they run on,
Until, with a falter,
A flicker - soon gone -
Their pace starts to alter:
Heeling again
As if hopelessly tired
They wobble, and then
The poise we admired
Reels, clatters and sprawls,
Pathetically over.
- And what most appals
Is that tiny first shiver,
That stumble, whereby
We know beyond doubt
They have almost run out
And are starting to die.

Larkin: Solar

Suspended lion face

Spilling at the centre

Of an unfurnished sky

How still you stand,

And how unaided

Single stalkless flower

You pour unrecompensed.


The eye sees you

Simplified by distance

Into an origin,

Your petalled head of flames

Continuously exploding.

Heat is the echo of your



Coined there among

Lonely horizontals

You exist openly.

Our needs hourly

Climb and return like angels.

Unclosing like a hand,

You give for ever.

Philip Larkin 

- from High Windows

Larkin: any-angled light

If I were called in

To construct a religion

I should make use of water.

Going to church

Would entail a fording

To dry, different clothes;

My litany would employ

Images of sousing,

A furious devout drench,

And I should raise in the east

A glass of water

Where any-angled light

Would congregate endlessly.

-- Philip Larkin