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The Old Fools Analysis



Author: Poetry of Philip Larkin Type: Poetry Views: 275

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High Windows1973What do they think has happened, the old fools,

To make them like this? Do they somehow suppose

It's more grown-up when your mouth hangs open and drools,

And you keep on pissing yourself, and can't remember

Who called this morning? Or that, if they only chose,

They could alter things back to when they danced all night,

Or went to their wedding, or sloped arms some September?

Or do they fancy there's really been no change,

And they've always behaved as if they were crippled or tight,

Or sat through days of thin continuous dreaming

Watching the light move? If they don't (and they can't), it's strange;Why aren't they screaming?At death you break up: the bits that were you

Start speeding away from each other for ever

With no one to see. It's only oblivion, true:

We had it before, but then it was going to end,

And was all the time merging with a unique endeavour

To bring to bloom the million-petalled flower

Of being here. Next time you can't pretend

There'll be anything else. And these are the first signs:

Not knowing how, not hearing who, the power

Of choosing gone. Their looks show that they're for it:

Ash hair, toad hands, prune face dried into lines -How can they ignore it?Perhaps being old is having lighted rooms

Inside you head, and people in them, acting

People you know, yet can't quite name; each looms

Like a deep loss restored, from known doors turning,

Setting down a lamp, smiling from a stair, extracting

A known book from the shelves; or sometimes only

The rooms themselves, chairs and a fire burning,

The blown bush at the window, or the sun's

Faint friendliness on the wall some lonely

Rain-ceased midsummer evening. That is where they live:

Not here and now, but where all happened once.This is why they giveAn air of baffled absence, trying to be there

Yet being here. For the rooms grow farther, leaving

Incompetent cold, the constant wear and tear

Of taken breath, and them crouching below

Extinction's alp, the old fools, never perceiving

How near it is. This must be what keeps them quiet:

The peak that stays in view wherever we go

For them is rising ground. Can they never tell

What is dragging them back, and how it will end? Not at night?

Not when the strangers come? Never, throughout

The whole hideous inverted childhood? Well,We shall find out.






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