Silken it seems at a distance, yet
When it is drawn up over the knees and breast
It brings no comfort.
Where has the tree gone, that locked
Earth to sky? What is under my hands,
That I cannot feel?
What loads my hand down?
“Going” can be read as a complement (or perhaps counterpart) to another of Larkin’s works recently posted here, “Coming”. Both poems begin at an evening. In “Coming” it’s a sundown of warm and tender recognition; in “Going” it’s all gray clouds gathering — portents of some enormous, merciless darkness.
I like both poems a lot, for different reasons, though I think “Coming” is the more polished work. Part of this may be attributable to age. Larkin wrote “Going” when he was twenty-three (optimistic, wasn’t he?). Yet in addition to its craftsmanship, “Coming” is also a better poem, I think, because of the richer set of emotions it projects.
Read “Coming” here:
The photograph: taken on the southern coast Ireland several years ago.