Philip Larkin and Early Mornings

9 08 2010

I just finished listening to The Writer’s Almanac podcast (which I do almost every morning) and one bit about those early morning thoughts resonated with me, even though I managed to oversleep yet again. Today is Philip Larkin’s birthday and, while depressing, I find the following thought very lucid and beautiful:

“I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
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.”

It’s depressing sure. I normally follow roughly the same habit, although I was too lazy to hunt down my cell phone/alarm clock last night and didn’t get around to getting up at my usual 4:30. Still, I was up early enough to catch the glimmer of sunlight peeking out around the curtains in our room which ordinarily cause a complete blackout. And I do lie there thinking. Larkin saw death with the beginning of each new day. It’s raw. I think it’s one of the great things about those early morning thoughts when your mind is clear of all the noise you gather throughout the day, that your thoughts just manage to cut through all of the bullshit and get to what’s real: mortality, feeling, life. It’s why I prefer to write early in the mornings aside from just the practical aspect of not having the kids hound me every 30 seconds. I think faster and more clearly at that time and I get to what matters instantly with no baggage.

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