In a recent post on The Poetry Foundation’s website, Caitlin Kimball calls British poet Philip Larkin “that crown prince of misanthropic, socially awkward poet-librarians,” which is probably the best, funniest summation of Larkin’s whole ethos I’ve ever read. For me, reading Larkin’s poems are like sucking on lemons (I know, I know: terrible for one’s teeth. But I do it anyway.). There’s sourness, sure, but it only serves to highlight the brightness of the fruit, the taste like color.
In this poem, “Days,” it’s the turn that twists the knife; the first stanza lulls the reader into a little thought experiment, asking her to consider day as a place rather than as a time: “Where can we live but days?” Ay, there’s the rub.
Here’s the second and final stanza.