Spring lamb delayed

Sunday, 26 May, 2013

The great English poet Philip Larkin enjoys a reputation for lyricism and despondency. Some of his most profound works are filled with fatalism: “Being brave / Lets no one off the grave / Death is no different whined at than withstood,” he wrote in Aubade. Here, however, he’s in upbeat mood. The weather may be awful, as it has been for most of this year, but it will improve and one of these mornings we’ll be greeted by something, Larkin assures us, “Utterly unlike the snow.”

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 immeasureable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow
Utterly unlike the snow.

Philip Larkin (1922 — 1985)


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