Monday, 26 July 2010

Philip Larkin, death, and French knickers

“I hope I die before I get old,” wrote the 20-year-old Pete Townsend when The Who’s My Generation was talking about my generation. But none of us really subscribed to a “live fast, die young” philosophy. Everyone I knew who didn’t reach their minimum three score and ten was, as they say, cruelly cut short in their prime.
I won’t visit the subject of death often in this blog because the poet Philip Larkin said all there was to say in his Aubade which I link to here.
For a poem, which takes its title from evoking the dawn, its bleakness is almost unbearable. Life staggers on until it stops. Religion offers Larkin no comfort in the inevitability of death. He cannot shake free the dread of dying and being dead.
I promised myself not to refer to Aubade - probably Larkin’s last great poem before his own death in 1985 - until I could see a way that wouldn’t drown the post in a pool of despair.
Today I think I’ve cracked it in a way of which Larkin might have approved given his taste for spanking porn. My Google search revealed that Aubade is also the name of a seductive French lingerie designer.
Its 2010 calendar is very much of the living and chases away thoughts of our ultimate fate speaking as it does to men and women who still have warm blood in their veins.
My illustration from the calendar for November was chosen in acknowledgement of what might even cheer up Larkin.


  1. Philip Larkin. Super poem on impending death, GC/Grapefruit, says Jaffa. Last verse spoils it by the poet trying to imagine the immediate scene after he has departed. On the other hand, this could be reflected by the title of the poem. "aubade" is French word dating back to circa 1678, meaning; a morning serenade; a song or poem greeting the dawn; a morning love song, a song or poem of lovers parting at dawn, etc.

    Therefore, does the title of the poem somehow belie its content? Is the poet in fact " in love with easeful death " ? And what about you GC, using your blog to count down to your final days: as intimated in your biographical details; also with other comments; and some of your blog entries including this one?

    Also super French lingerie collection. Looking at all the catalogue as displayed within the link you provide. there are many 'breathless' items.

  2. Thank you Jaffa for another thoughtful comment. I see death being as final as did Larkin but without the same dread. I have embraced its inevitability. My immortality will live on in the memory of those that survive me - and that is enough.
    Until then I'm content to peer into the abyss without any desire to jump. GC


What do you think? GC