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No Road

Philip Larkin

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Added by: James Wills
You know, Proust in the first section of "Within A Budding Grove" -- 'Madame Swann At Home' takes 300 pages to say what Larkin manages in these short verses. This captures neatly that awful yearning one can feel when deliberately ending an unhappy love affair, that nevertheless held some sweet memories too.

More delicate and balanced than his reputation for unremitting bleakness would suggest, and one of my personal favourite Larkin poems.
Nothing deliberate about this poem
Added by: Beth
With the caveat that all these impressions are subjective and for me informed by years of compulsive repetition, injecting Larkin's words with the same meanings with each reiteration, it seems to me that this poem is neither about an "unhappy" love affair nor about its "deliberate" end. No, indeed, what I have always found, and continue to find, so striking about this poem is its sheer stance of almost masochistic passivity. The road has not been obstructed as of yet; it might be obstructed one day, but if it is, it will be some external force that imposes the interdiction. My reading of this passivity has everything to do with my objection to the reading of the poem's affair as being "unhappy." And the reason for this is the delicious ambivalence with which Larkin leaves us at the end of the poem. The speaker both ardently desires the road "to fall to disuse," willing it would be a "fullfillment," and desires to return, perhaps compulsively, down that path yet again, as though no grass "creeps unmown" and no leaves "drift unswept." And the poem, like "High Windows," leaves the reader with no sense of certainty at the end: as far as we know, this "road" of which the poem speaks might well necessarily always be poised on the brink between utter obscurity and complete, unimpeded access.

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