By Philip Larkin
My wife and I have asked a crowd of craps
To come and waste their time and ours: perhaps
You’d care to join us? In a pig’s arse, friend.
Day comes to an end.
The gas fire breathes, the trees are darkly swayed.
And so Dear Warlock-Williams: I’m afraid —
Funny how hard it is to be alone.
I could spend half my evenings, if I wanted,
Holding a glass of washing sherry, canted
Over to catch the drivel of some bitch
Who’s read nothing but Which;
Just think of all the spare time that has flown
Straight into nothingness by being filled
With forks and faces, rather than repaid
Under a lamp, hearing the noise of wind,
And looking out to see the moon thinned
To an air-sharpened blade.
A life, and yet sternly it’s instilled
All solitude is selfish. No one now
Believes the hermit with his gown and dish
Talking to God (who’s gone too): the big wish
Is to have people nice to you, which means
Doing it back somehow.
Virtue is social. Are, then, these routines
Playing at goodness, like going to church?
Something that bores us, something we don’t do well
(Asking that ass about his fool research)
But try to feel, because, however crudely,
It shows us what should be?
Too subtle, that. Too decent, too. Oh hell,
Only the young can be alone freely,
The time is shorter now for company,
And sitting by a lamp more often brings
Not peace, but other things.
Beyond that light stand failure and removes
Whispering Dear Warlock-Williams: Why, of course —