One of the poems I have had up on my desk since Covid struck has been this one by Philip Larkin. I don’t know exactly why it’s a comfort because in some ways it isn’t very comforting at all but then that’s the mystery of poetry for you. I think it may be the perfect mixture of misery, humour and cynicism.


What are days for?

Days are where we live.

They come, they wake us

Time and time over.

They are to be happy in:

Where can we live but days?


Ah, solving that question

Brings the priest and the doctor

In their long coats

Running over the fields.


Photo by u00c1kos Szabu00f3 on

No running priests or doctors here but at least some fields. Have you found any specific poems or poets helpful during this unsettling time?

9 thoughts on “DAYS: PHILIP LARKIN

  1. A wonderful poem, thank you for keeping us on track – and on the theme of ‘Days’ – the Priest might quote ‘”Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”. At the beginning of lockdown, seeing our dwindling stock of toilet rolls, the first half of the quote did provide some comfort. And then the local surgery was closed to patients so we had to rely on the adage ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. To quote my mother and others – ‘if you want real peace, try and onion. So far so good. One day at a time does it.

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    • Local surgery closed to patients?! I like Larkin because generally speaking it’s clear what he’s saying. Maybe that’s another way of saying I just don’t have to think that hard! Very glad you’re both doing well. Sending love from both of us to you and Louise


  2. You were quite right to slap my wrist for my Trumpish exaggeration! The surgery was kept locked and you had to phone them for advice and prescriptions and I am sure in extremis they would let you though the door.

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  3. I can understand exactly why this poem spoke to you – it suggests to me that we can only live one day at a time and that’s what this period has been like. I bought a copy of the collected Carol Ann Duffy a few weeks ago and I’m working me way through that. I read ‘Warming her Pearls’ and had to read more.

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  4. I have an anthology of Carol Ann Duffy always to hand as she is great for shocking you into a new reality. Phil belongs to a poetry group, which for the first months of lockdown did not meet as I think a lot of creative people had no creative energy left while trying to come to terms with it all. I certainly didn’t. Phil mainly writes song lyrics but recently a fellow group member wrote a poem which she thought would make great song lyrics and he is currently setting them to music. It’s very adaptable this poetry malarkey!

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