Thunder & After


A crack of thunder over head
A flash 'n' crackle of lightning
The gods say::
Stretch your words across the sky
Illuminate the stark, skeletal
Trees of this northern winter.

Some poor sod's dead
Their rumble roar-not-fled
Still echoing in my head
Echo, reverberate, haunt.

All around my desperate head,
Clouds drop frozen hail
Like stones pelting down
On a world turning wet and lonely.

With a clown’s frown,
On a world turning
Down the chances offered by the gods
The night sky wears a turned-down-frown,
A clown’s painted-on smile,
A curve of white grease paint,
A mile wide, eight miles high,
Definitely not heaven-sent,
Splashed all across the black sky,

The moon offers respite,
With its waxing and its waning,
From interminable night;
Light suffuses right through
Us to the tightness of a beating heart
Saturated, now, as the storm subsides:
Satiated with  blood and thunder
Infecting these lonesome, English eyes
With a lack of that mandatory fooling-disguise
Which hides what is really always there:
Souls trapped in this thinnest of air.


◄ My friend's tomb

A shadow behind the sun ►


Profile image

John Marks

Mon 6th Feb 2023 18:44

Exactly Stephen: in intention anyway, if not accomplishment! I think 'Aubade' is one of Larkin's truly great poems. We won't speak much about what is REALLY always there:

Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify. Larkin, 'Aubade,' verse 1

Profile image

Stephen Gospage

Mon 6th Feb 2023 08:09

So much in this poem, John. I like the way it builds towards its (Larkinesque?) conclusion.

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message