Sunday, May 30, 2004

In the past -but not very often- when enduring periods of boredom I developed the habit of memorizing a poem or two, just to force myself to get up and out of the cellar. I started out with Under Ben Bulben. Soon after, I found myself in a drunken barroom duet of Sally Gardens. Though I'd only read it a few times and was a little sloppy, my partner filled in the gaps, and it just reinforced the habit.
This morning, thanks to a piece in the Times, I remembered, laughing, that when I'm in a lousy mood I still have the habit of mumbling this one as I walk down the street:

Caught in the center of a soundless field
While hot inexplicable hours go by
What trap is this? Where were its teeth concealed?
You seem to ask.
I make a sharp reply,
Then clean my stick. I'm glad I can't explain
Just in what jaws you were to suppurate:
You may have thought things would come right again
If you could only keep quite still and wait.

Philip Larkin.

*My dilapidated copy of the Norton Anthology adds this:
Myxomatosis: An infectious and fatal disease of rabbits, artificially introduced into Great Britain and Australia in recent years to keep down the rabbit population.

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