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Good answer

Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 1:30 am
by camus
Days - Philip Larkin

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

-

Ah, what irony Larkin employs! That a priest and a doctor, a man of religion
and a man of science, two men who serve in "solving that question," two fields
that tend to the mysteries of life, arrive soon after the question has been
answered without them.

Re: Good answer

Posted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:58 pm
by TDF
cheers, camus,
That was actually a very good lesson for me. I actually missed the relevants of the second v actually being the second v. And missed the field metephor.

could be the beer... could be a good teacher.

:)
TDF

Re: Good answer

Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:13 pm
by David
Great poem, of course, Kris, one of my favourites of his, but (ornery old varmint that I am), I don't think "fields" is a pun, and has the question been answered, with or without them? I don't think so.

Your interpretation is just as valid as mine, I just thought I'd try to blow TDF's mind with a little counter-reading.

Re: Good answer

Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:28 pm
by camus
David,

Sorry I should have quoted that:

"Ah, what irony Larkin employs! That a priest and a doctor, a man of religion
and a man of science, two men who serve in "solving that question," two fields
that tend to the mysteries of life, arrive soon after the question has been
answered without them."

I just stumbled across it, and thought it a valid "interpretation"

cheers
Kris

Re: Good answer

Posted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 1:11 pm
by TDF
David wrote:Your interpretation is just as valid as mine, I just thought I'd try to blow TDF's mind with a little counter-reading.
Always welcome getting a blow... to the mind.

It is always enjoyable to read someone else's interpretation of a poem you previously read in a certain light. I've always been a believer that any interpretaion is valid, if if it differs from the authors intentions.

Re: Good answer

Posted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 5:40 pm
by Charles
Yes, that is a good interpretation. I've always seen the priest and the doctor as primarily emblematic of man's frantic but horrifyingly futile desire to avoid death... but I think the strength of Larkin's poetry is that many of his poems contain a duplicity in meaning.

I don't know what it is about that line "In their long coats" that makes it so brilliant, but it seems to me to be one of most perfectly judged lines he wrote in terms of emotional impact. This is probably the closest he gets to the imagist style - pity he couldn't write more like this, but then I suppose it is to be valued all the more for its rarity.