Before there are rooms there is room in the sense of ‘space’ (‘make more room’; ‘is there enough room?’), or in the precise definition of the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘dimensional extent’. The ultimate ‘room’ in which we live is our own dimensional extent: our body. Larkin’s bookplate depicted a star enclosed within a circle, with the quotation from Blake: ‘How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way, /Is an immense world of delight clos’d by your senses five?’1 We live always within the enclosure of our senses. The immense delight of the world ‘out there’ is ‘clos’d by your senses five’. We are only ever here and it is only ever now: ‘always is always now’; ‘Days are where we live.’2 It is such elementary intersections of place with time which are the underlying theme of all Larkin’s poems: ‘Going’, ‘Coming’, ‘Absences’, ‘Days’, ‘Continuing to Live’, ‘First Sight’, ‘Far Out’, ‘Here’, ‘How Distant’, ‘Livings’. His poems concern the existential plight of ‘being here’. They are about being at grass as much as horses, the sudden shut of loss as much as ambulances, beginning afresh as much as trees. His subjects are wants, long perspectives, absences, attendance, the view.
KeywordsNoun Phrase Oxford English Dictionary Railway Carriage Ivory Tower Grammatical Subject
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