“Days are where we live.”

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.

Image courtesy of Pixomar / Freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Pixomar / Freedigitalphotos.net

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.

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.
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