MCMXIV—Philip Larkin

One of the poets I’ve been reading lately is Philip Larkin (1922-1985). Larkin has many striking poems, but one that stands out to me is “MCMXIV”. MCMXIV is, of course, 1914 in Roman numerals. The title suggests the beginning of World War I. Larkin begins the poem by talking about long lines of men, then moves to speaking of “the shut shops” and other images of vacancy.

The poem ends with the lines,

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word—the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.

With these lines, Larkin perfectly captures the sense of loss: loss of normalcy and of life, certainly. But also loss of the entire world as it was.

If you like the few lines above, I encourage you to read the whole poem here: https://allpoetry.com/Mcmxiv. Alternatively, you can listen to Philip Larkin read the poem here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=26SaY6s3IaM.

Published by mrteague

Teague McKamey lives in Washington state with his wife and two children. Teague’s poetry has appeared in several journals and in self-published books. He blogs at thevoiceofone.org and awanderingminstrel.com. In all areas of life, Teague desires that Christ may be magnified in his body (Php. 1:20).

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