High Windows

When I see a couple of kids
And guess he's fucking her and she's
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,
I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives--
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the long slide

To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if
Anyone looked at me, forty years back,
And thought, That'll be the life;
No God any more, or sweating in the dark

About hell and that, or having to hide
What you think of the priest. He
And his lot will all go down the long slide
Like free bloody birds. And immediately

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

by Philip Larkin

Other poems of LARKIN (93)

Comments (3)

I agree with what has been said about the poem already. The sharp, shocking start almost blends and smoothens out towards the ending lines. This is one of those Larkin poems that showcases hope. A hope to reach something that is greater and much beyond us.
The power of this poem lies in the journey Larkin makes from the suffocating baseness of the opening stanza to the freedom of the final stanza, it is almost as if the poet breathes in a large gulp of oxygen after struggling with his breathing. Larkin turns our usual perceptions of life and death on their heads. It is life that becomes stifling in this poem and death that is releasing.
I read this poem and I think it is about his struggle with faith as he never stops seeking an answer but he is also never able to find something satisfactory or good enough for him. 'everyone young going down the long slide to happiness, '. What is this long slide to happiness? Young is used here maybe not refer to people young of age but means people who are new to the faith. The young believers are maybe all 'going down' in search for 'happiness'. Instead of finding true happiness as the faith tells him he may have felt that it is a lie. He may have felt that it is a waste of someone’s mind to commit themselves to faith. He looks back at himself maybe wishing he was one of those young souls seeking God again, then finish with the thought that he would 'go down the slide' like 'free bloody birds'. Larkin ends up, feeling lost and not being able to receive any direction. It seems that the more Larkin seeked to find the Truth, the more delirious he got. I think that maybe that is Larkin's mood in his many attempts to find an answer.