Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr

What will survive of us is love

Friday, 14 February, 2014

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd —
The little dogs under their feet.

An Arundel Tomb by Philip Larkin (1922 — 1985)

An Arundel Tomb

Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel (died 1376), and his wife, Eleanor of Lancaster (died 1372) are buried, with their dogs, in a carved tomb in Chichester Cathedral. He is fully dressed in armour but the mailed glove is off his right hand, and her right hand rests upon his. Joined in marriage during their lives, they are now joined forever in death. Omnia vincit amor wrote Virgil, but the skeptical Larkin is not so sure. Still, the hand-in-hand scene moved him to end his poem with one of the great lines of modern verse: What will survive of us is love.

Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.


Comments are closed.