'Seventy feet down'



Seventy feet down

The sea explodes upwards,

Relapsing, to slaver

Off landing-stage steps -

Running suds, rejoice!


Rocks writhe back to sight.

Mussels, limpets,

Husband their tenacity

In the freezing slither -

Creatures, I cherish you!


By day, sky builds

Grape-dark over the salt

Unsown stirring fields.

Radio rubs its legs,

Telling me of elsewhere:


Barometers falling,

Ports wind-shuttered,

Fleets pent like hounds,

Fires in humped inns

Kippering sea-pictures -


Keep it all off!

By night, snow swerves

(O loose moth world)

Through the stare travelling

Leather-black waters.


Guarded by brilliance

I set plate and spoon,

And after, divining cards.

Lit shelved liners

Grope like mad worlds westwards.


Philip Larkin