I've been putting up Thursday Short Poems for nearly two and a half years. I've decided to add a twist for the next few weeks, and put up favorite poems from different periods of my life. I'll have the first poems I loved, favorites from adolescence, young adulthood, and beyond. I won't do them in chronological order, but simply throw them up at random.
This Phillip Larkin poem is well-known, and I read it first in a British Lit class my junior year of high school. I was going through a prolonged awkward period I called my FUSS stage. FUSS stood for "fat, ugly, slow, and stupid" and that's how I felt about myself for years. (And trust me, until I had a spiritual awakening, I could be skin and bones, as promiscuous as could be, running endless quarter mile repeats, and working on a doctorate, and I still felt FUSS.) Larkin's poem captured for me the longing I felt for girls, for acceptance; it captured that awful feeling of "outside looking in." I comforted -- and tortured -- myself with these lines for a long time, even if today, they only serve to remind me of who I once was.
Reasons for Attendance
The trumpet's voice, loud and authoritative,
Draws me a moment to the lighted glass
To watch the dancers - all under twenty-five -
Solemnly on the beat of happiness.
- Or so I fancy, sensing the smoke and sweat,
The wonderful feel of girls. Why be out there ?
But then, why be in there? Sex, yes, but what
Is sex ? Surely to think the lion's share
Of happiness is found by couples - sheer
Inaccuracy, as far as I'm concerned.
What calls me is that lifted, rough-tongued bell
(Art, if you like) whose individual sound
Insists I too am individual.
It speaks; I hear; others may hear as well,
But not for me, nor I for them; and so
With happiness. Therefor I stay outside,
Believing this, and they maul to and fro,
Believing that; and both are satisfied,
If no one has misjudged himself. Or lied.