• Kristina Zill

Going, Going by Philip Larkin


I thought it would last my time— The sense that, beyond the town, There would always be fields and farms, Where the village louts could climb Such trees as were not cut down; I knew there’d be false alarms In the papers about old streets And split level shopping, but some Have always been left so far; And when the old part retreats As the bleak high-risers come We can always escape in the car. Things are tougher than we are, just As earth will always respond However we mess it about; Chuck filth in the sea, if you must: The tides will be clean beyond. —But what do I feel now? Doubt? Or age, simply? The crowd Is young in the M1 cafe; Their kids are screaming for more— More houses, more parking allowed, More caravan sites, more pay. On the Business Page, a score Of spectacled grins approve Some takeover bid that entails Five per cent profit (and ten Per cent more in the estuaries): move Your works to the unspoilt dales (Grey area grants)! And when You try to get near the sea In summer . . .        It seems, just now, To be happening so very fast; Despite all the land left free For the first time I feel somehow That it isn’t going to last, That before I snuff it, the whole Boiling will be bricked in Except for the tourist parts— First slum of Europe: a role It won’t be hard to win, With a cast of crooks and tarts. And that will be England gone, The shadows, the meadows, the lanes, The guildhalls, the carved choirs. There’ll be books; it will linger on In galleries; but all that remains For us will be concrete and tyres. Most things are never meant. This won’t be, most likely; but greeds And garbage are too thick-strewn To be swept up now, or invent Excuses that make them all needs. I just think it will happen, soon.