PQR: Poems, Quotes, Readings

When first we faced

by Philip Larkin

When first we faced, and touching showed
How well we knew the early moves,
Behind the moonlight and the frost,
The excitement and the gratitude,
There stood how much the meeting owed
To other meetings, other loves.

The decades of a different life
That opened past your inch-close eyes
Belonged to others, lavished, lost;
Nor could I hold you hard enough
To call my years of hunger-strife
Back for your mouth to colonize.

Admitted: and the pain is real.
But when did love not try to change
The world back to itself -- no cost,
No past, no people else at all --
Only what meeting made us feel,
So new, and gentle-sharp, and strange.

Larkin, Philip. "When first we faced." Collected Poems. London: Faber & Faber, (c) 1988, p. 205.

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Last Update: September 21, 2002