It’s time once again for a little poetry. Wait! Don’t run and hide! This is a good poem, and it uses simple language, and it isn’t hard to “figure out.” Larkin can be so curmudgeonly at times that he makes Oscar the Grouch look like Sweet Mary Sunshine, but this poem seems to hold something tender beneath its contrary exterior.
Mother, Summer, I
My mother, who hates thunderstorms,
Holds up each summer day and shakes
It out suspiciously, lest swarms
Of grape-dark clouds are lurking there;
But when the August weather breaks
And rains begin, and brittle frost
Sharpens the bird-abandoned air,
Her worried summer look is lost.
And I her son, though summer-born
And summer-loving, none the less
Am easier when the leaves are gone;
Too often summer days appear
Emblems of perfect happiness
I can’t confront: I must await
A time less bold, less rich, less clear:
An autumn more appropriate.
– Philip Larkin
One of the things I love about Larkin is his blend of colloquial language with formal structure. Check out the rhyme scheme on this baby! If you didn’t look carefully, you might have missed it when you first read the poem. It’s subtle like that.