I’ve finished the first two sections in Larkin’s Collected Poems, “The North Ship” and “The Less Deceived” published in 1945 and 1955 and so far haven’t found many poems that reach out and grab me. There were a couple in “The Less Deceived” that were interesting, but apparently the rights to those poems belong to a different publisher and they’re quite adamant about not using them “throughout the world,” so I’ll not include one here.
That said, the poems published in 1945 seem reminiscent of Hardy’s poetry, though not as appealing to me. A few of them actually seem rather Romantic, in a dark, Poe sort of way. And that’s not a good thing as far as I’m concerned. I guess it might appeal to others, though, considering the number of Google searches I get for dark poetry.
My favorite from the early collection is shorter than most and more direct:
Kick up the fire, and let the flames break loose
To drive the shadows back;
Prolong the talk on this or that excuse,
Till the night comes to rest
While some high bell is beating two o’clock.
Yet when the guest
Has stepped in to the windy street, and gone,
Who can confront
The instantaneous grief of being alone?
Or watch the sad increase
Across the mind of this prolific plant,
I guess I’ve lived alone long enough to identify with these feelings. Even though I thrive on being alone, it seems impossible not to feel lonely at times. I’d hate to not have at least one person I can call “friend” at all times in my life.
There’s a good reason why almost every campsite I’ve ever visited in the wilderness has a long-established fire-pit. Sitting next to a campfire and talking the night away is one of the best reasons to go backpacking as far as I’m concerned. Even when you’re dead tired from hiking most of the day, it’s hard to walk away from the campfire and hit the sleeping bag. There’s something primeval about sitting next to a fire talking, keeping the darkness away.
I can’t identify quite as much with the “dumb idleness” except for a few notable illnesses where I’ve been incapacitated because of surgery, but the few times I have experienced it have certainly been “sad,” if not downright depressing.