Another of those magical mystery poems...
(Poem #254) The North Ship
I saw three ships go sailing by, Over the sea, the lifting sea, And the wind rose in the morning sky, And one was rigged for a long journey. The first ship turned towards the west, Over the sea, the running sea, And by the wind was all possessed And carried to a rich country. The second ship turned towards the east, Over the sea, the quaking sea, And the wind hunted it like a beast To anchor in captivity. The third ship drove towards the north, Over the sea, the darkening sea, But no breath of wind came forth, And the decks shone frostily. The northern sky rose high and black Over the proud unfruitful sea, East and west the ships came back Happily or unhappily: But the third went wide and far Into an unforgiving sea Under a fire-spilling star, And it was rigged for a long journey.
One of those poems with which I'd be quite irritated, if it weren't done very well indeed. Fortunately, it is, so I'm not :-). thomas. [Biography] Philip Arthur Larkin (1922-1985): English poet, novelist, and critic, a leading figure of The Movement, a term coined to describe a group of British poets that coalesced during the 1950s, about the same time as the rise of the 'Angry Young Men'. The Movement poets addressed everyday British life in a plain, straightforward language and often in traditional forms. They first attracted attention with the publication of the anthology New Lines, edited by Robert Conquest; among the contributors were Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis, Donald Davie and Thom Gunn. Larkin was born in Coventry. He attended St. John's College, Oxford, during World War II, where he met Kingsley Amis. After graduating he became a librarian, first in the library of an urban district council in Shropshire, later in university libraries in Leicester and Belfast. From 1955 until his death he was the librarian of the Brynmor Jones library at the University of Hull, which he built up from a staff of 11 to one of over 100. As poet Larkin made his debut with the collection The North Ship in 1945, written with short lines and carefully worked-out rhyme schemes. The sad songs showed the influence of Yeats. It was followed by two novels, Jill (1946) and A Girl In Winter (1947). Among Larkin's major works are The Less Deceived (1955) and The Whitsun Weddings (1964), whose title-poem describing the poet's journey by train from Hull to London is his best-known work. Larkin uses the tones and rhythms of ordinary speech, and focuses on the urban landscape of the industrial north. High Windows (1974) includes two substantial poems about ageing, illness and death, 'The Old Fools' and 'The Building'. In these works Larkin explores the mood of post-war England and its reduced expectations. However, his common sense, scepticism and cool approach of drab suburbia and welfare state sponsored lives provoked accusations of emotional cowardice. The urge to self-limitation appears to have carried Larkin to the point of not writing much poetry and keeping his deeper feelings out of the poems he did write. Although he had a number of affairs, Larkin feared marriage and family, and never married, but he managed to maintain three long relationships. In 1974 he bought a house in Hull, which he shared with his companion Monica Jones. Shortly after refusing the Laureateship when his friend John Betjeman died, Larkin underwent surgery for cancer of the oesophagus, and died within a year on December 2, 1985. In spite of his wish that his papers be destroyed, some of his manuscripts were saved, but his voluminous diaries were burnt. In 1993 Andrew Morton published a controversial biography of the poet, and revealed the Nazi sympathies and misogynism of Larkin's father and the poet's casual racism and other political incorrect attitudes. There's another Larkin biography accompanying I Remember, I Remember, at poem #73 [Links] Previous Larkins to have featured on the Minstrels include I Remember, I Remember: poem #73 Days: poem #100 Water: poem #178 Both Martin and I like reading about voyages, quests and the eternal sea. So it's no surprise that the Minstrels archive includes lots of poems on these themes; some of the nicer ones include Sea Fever: poem #27 Earendil was a mariner: poem #93 The Viking Terror: poem #109 and the Harp Song of the Dane Women: poem #143 [Quotable Quote] 'Deprivation is to me what daffodils are to Wordsworth.' -- Philip Larkin.