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In reply to the discussion: A sonnet for pinto [View all]


(40,416 posts)
4. For my good friend, pinto.
Sun Aug 16, 2015, 08:19 PM
Aug 2015

Last edited Mon Aug 17, 2015, 08:52 AM - Edit history (7)

Church Going
by Philip Larkin

Once I am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence

Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where i stand, the roof looks almost new--
Cleaned or restored? someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
'Here endeth' much more loudly than I'd meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.

Yet stop I did: in fact I often do,
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for; wondering, too,
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show,
Their parchment, plate and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?

Or, after dark will dubious women come
To make their children touch a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games, in riddles, seemingly at random;
But superstition, like belief, must die,
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky.

A shape less recognisable each week,
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique,
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff
Of grown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative,

Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation--marriage and birth,
And death and thoughts of these--for which was built
This special shell? For, though I've no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognized, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which he once heard was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.

I will miss you, my good friend.
Peace be with you.

on edit: Corrected a couple of typos. I apologize for the horrible lack of punctuation in this. But iPads have a reprehensible inability to properly copy-paste from some Web pages. Punctuation corrected! It helps muchly.

BTW, Christopher Hitchens considered this poem as one of the finest ever. I owe my love of it to him. It certainly expresses my feelings. And yes, I like church going, both in the literal and poetic sense. I am sure that my friend pinto would have approved.
A sonnet for pinto [View all] rug Aug 2015 OP
That edhopper Aug 2015 #1
... shenmue Aug 2015 #2
all Life death does end and each day dies with sleep. Jim__ Aug 2015 #3
For my good friend, pinto. longship Aug 2015 #4
+1 rug Aug 2015 #5
May light shine eternal. kwassa Aug 2015 #6
Wayfaring stranger struggle4progress Aug 2015 #7
A good man. TM99 Aug 2015 #8
Pinto, you will be missed. nt No Vested Interest Aug 2015 #9
We will miss him. okasha Aug 2015 #10
Good choice, rug. nt awoke_in_2003 Aug 2015 #11
Thanks, Rug! Starboard Tack Aug 2015 #12
My dear friend cbayer Aug 2015 #13
I am so sorry about this loss. I know you knew him personally and that this hurts. hrmjustin Aug 2015 #14
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