Sunday, November 13, 2005

When we first Faced, and Touching Showed by Philip Larkin

When first we faced, and touching showed
How well we knew the early moves,
Behind the moonlight and the frost,
The excitement and the gratitude,
There stood how much our meeting owed
To other meetings, other loves.

The decades of a different life
That opened past your inch-close eyes
Belonged to others, lavished, lost;
Nor could I hold you hard enough
To call my years of hunger-strife
Back for your mouth to colonise.

Admitted: and the pain is real.
But when did love not try to change
The world back to itself--no cost,
No past, no people else at all--
Only what meeting made us feel,
So new, and gentle-sharp, and strange?

The speaker talks about how this new love he is experiencing is bringing back up the history of his old loves. In the second stanza he talks about how he will not be able to access his lover's past relationships, and that this love cannot bury his past either. In the end though, the tone is very hopeful, that even though there will inevitably be pain and suffering in love, and no new relationship can make that go away, he leaves the reader with the a rhetorical questions saying that even though there is all this, love will still try anyway. I enjoyed this poem because even though it doesn't tell the story though concrete details, it is a very elegant way of describing relationships- old and new, a subject that has been exhausted through songs and poetry for years. The rhyming pattern is one that I'm unfamiliar with as well: ABCDAB. I like what it does to the poem, where halfway into the stanza you forget that it rhymes, but it pulls back in the last two lines creating a circular effect.

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