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Philip Arthur Larkin, CH, CBE, FRSL (9 August 1922 2 December 1985) is widely regarded as one of the great

t English poets of the latter half of the twentieth century. His first book of poetry, The North Ship, was published in 1945, followed by two novels, Jill (1946) and A Girl in Winter (1947), but he came to prominence in 1955 with the publication of his second collection of poems, The Less Deceived, followed by The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974). He contributed to The Daily Telegraph as its jazz critic from 1961 to 1971, articles gathered together in All What Jazz: A Record Diary 196171 (1985), and he edited The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse (1973).[1] He was the recipient of many honours, including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.[2] He was offered, but declined, the position of poet laureate in 1984, following the death of John Betjeman. After graduating from Oxford in 1943 with a first in English language and literature, Larkin became a librarian. It was during the thirty years he served as university librarian at the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull that he produced the greater part of his published work. His poems are marked by what Andrew Motion calls a very English, glum accuracy about emotions, places, and relationships, and what Donald Davie described as lowered sights and diminished expectations. Eric Homberger called him "the saddest heart in the post-war supermarket"Larkin himself said that deprivation for him was what daffodils were for Wordsworth.[3] Influenced by W. H. Auden, W. B. Yeats, and Thomas Hardy, his poems are highly structured but flexible verse forms. They were described by Jean Hartley, the ex-wife of Larkin's publisher George Hartley (The Marvell Press), as a "piquant mixture of lyricism and discontent",[4] though anthologist Keith Tuma writes that there is more to Larkin's work than its reputation for dour pessimism suggests.[5] Larkin's public persona was that of the no-nonsense, solitary Englishman who disliked fame and had no patience for the trappings of the public literary life.[6] The posthumous publication by Anthony Thwaite in 1992 of his letters triggered controversy about his personal life and political views, described by John Banville as hair-raising, but also in places hilarious.[6] Lisa Jardine called him a "casual, habitual racist, and an easy misogynist", but the academic John Osborne argued in 2008 that "the worst that anyone has discovered about Larkin are some crass letters and a taste for porn softer than what passes for mainstream entertainment".[7] Despite the controversy Larkin was chosen in a 2003 Poetry Book Society survey, almost two decades after his death, as Britain's best-loved poet of the previous 50 years, and in 2008 The Times named him Britain's greatest post-war writer.[8] In 2010, 25 years after his death, Larkin's adopted home city, Kingston upon Hull commemorated him with the Larkin 25 Festival[9] which culminated in the unveiling of a statue of Larkin by Martin Jennings on 2 December 2010, the 25th anniversary of his death.[

Church Going Church Going' is the best known, most discussed and most quoted poem written by Philip Larkin. Since its literature is so huge, there will be only a brief introduction of the main views in this essay, with specific views quoted only if they relate to my own points. 'A Stone Church Damaged by a Bomb' is not a widely known poem, mostly because it is a very early one. Since it is a minor work of Larkin, I will discuss it together with 'Church Going'. Critics have examined 'Church Going' from many aspects. Exploring the form of the poem, it was seen that it has a strict rhyme (ababcadcd) and rhythm (iambic tetrameter) scheme (Morrison 229), although some lines do not rhyme at all. The title's meanings have been discussed by many critics as well, Parkinson (228) gave three interpretations - the act of going to church, the customs that keep church alive and visiting the church (as one goes to the theatre ) - Rcz (70) and Morrison (227) gave a fourth interpretation - the disappearing church. The vocabulary is consciously chosen, the equilibrium of Christianity-related and nonreligious words can be seen (Lerner 19). Religious words are for example "ruin-bibber" that appeared in the King James Bible, or "ghostly", which both means "spiritual" and "saint" (Parkinson 228). The word "serious" meant "religious" until the 19th century, which allows for a different interpretation of the poem (Lerner 18 - to be discussed below). Rcz emphasized the many interrogatives and blasphemic words in the

poem (77). On the other hand, the language is conversational (Kuby 132) with many contemporary references (Whalen 16). James (106) pointed out that there are "smiling rhymes" in the poem as "ruinbibber, randy for antique" (which is made humorous by alliteration). Discussing the content, the critics examined three main points (in addition to many other, very specific ones) which shall be mentioned here. The first is the question of belief. Kuby claims that "when disbelief has gone", seriousness remains (109), Lerner states that belief is only fiction therefore the need to believe is what remains (18), Swarbrick calls the ceremonies themselves illusory (66) and illusory is something that should be avoided (Rcz 72, Kuby 113, Motion 1992 65). The second is the narrator himself, who is clumsy, fallible (Rcz 73, Motion 1993 241, Morrison 230), bored and ignorant (Lerner 17); still searching for religion (Rossen 35); therefore having two different tones, one clever and one sensitive (Whalen 14). The third thought in the poem is the isolated (Whalen 17, Rossen 35), meditative poet (Lerner 17, Kuby 111) who is, or at least pretends to be, "less deceived" (Kuby 112, Motion 1992 65, Rcz 72). The chief question in my opinion is why an atheist wonders often about "When churches will fall completely out of use"? Larkin, although he claimed to be an atheist, still had many thoughts on the question, and did not seem to solve them. The poem suggests that he thinks of the Church as a still working institute, otherwise the question quoted above would be meaningless. More likely, he thinks that churches still work somehow (even if not perfectly) as the word "completely" suggests. All the forthcoming thoughts are about the future, as a "what, if". In my reading this does not mean that Christianity is already in ruins and nobody believes anymore, rather there is a vague prediction about a time when Christianity is no longer optional but totally forgotten. The discussion will show that the poem's conclusion is that there will never be a time without religion as long as rational people are alive. The poem is an exploration of this theme with the same technique as in 'An Arundel Tomb'. If 'An Arundel Tomb' was a journey back in time, this is a journey into the chosen future. The first two stanzas give a description of the present. The narrator viewing the church is clumsy and ignorant (Rcz 73) and, most importantly, an atheist, still, he is impressed by the church itself. He claims that "the place was not worth stopping for" but right afterwards adds, "Yet stop I did". This alternation of views on religion can be seen everywhere in the poem. Therefore the question is whether to believe or not, which contradicts Motion (1992, 60). The second half of the third stanza (from "if we shall keep / A few cathedrals chronically on show") describes the near future, when churches will be useless but not forgotten, just turned into museums. The fourth stanza offers another option for what churches could become: places of superstition. This is not further from the present but a different option of what could happen, if the basic prediction would come true. From "what remains when disbelief has gone" (in the fourth stanza) we travel further into the future when the churches begin to be weathered (as in the fifth stanza of 'An Arundel Tomb'). The buildings would be "A shape less recognizable each week" where only the "ruin-bibber" would know what a church would have been. This evokes 'A Stone Church Damaged by a Bomb' which is the description of not only a church but the "scaffolded mind" too. The narrator worships the church but sees its damage and that it could not give security to the people who were working there (which would have been common in earlier days). But even if the workers are dead, they are in peace and that is a good effect of the church and faith. Still, it has the hypocrisy of 'Vers de Socit' since the church itself seems to be unhurt as it "Runs and leaps against the sky", and is "created deathless". Nevertheless, "what patterns it is making" are patterns of damage; the church remains "when disbelief has gone". The sixth stanza of 'Church Going' already merges future and present, and only the last line shows that the stanza is about the narrator's present. The narrator of the first two stanzas comes back with his ignorance, clumsiness and awkwardness, he states again what he has stated in the second stanza (quoted above), that although he has "no idea /What this [church] is worth; It pleases [him] to stand in silence [t]here". This

could mean that the narrator is touched by religion, and although he has never experienced God as a living Being, he does respect those who can sense such a phenomenon. The last stanza is closely connected to the present, still it becomes timeless and with this, everlasting. "Since someone will forever be surprising" might be interpreted as if the narrator, though calmly wondering about churches disappearing, finally came to the conclusion that the need to believe is an essential need of human beings, therefore there would never be a time when churches would be gone. This last stanza can be associated with the fourth one, where the question "what remains when disbelief has gone?" is raised. The answer is: no human, no living being, only "Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky". If we connect these two stanzas, the fourth stanza's last word, "sky", can be associated with the last line of the last stanza, "so many dead lie around." These together present the conclusion that the dead bodies are in heaven, therefore the real answer to the question above is: If disbelief has gone, human nature has gone as well. This is the need to believe, mentioned earlier. Since this ending is close to accepting Christianity, we might expect that it is not Larkin's point of view. This is suggested by the technique he uses to distance himself from the meditating views. This "multilayer" technique is based on the "characters within a character". Larkin the person is outside the poem, Larkin the poetic persona, invents the character of the clumsy intruder, who in turn has his own - meditative - character. This fourth, meditative layer is the one that gets close to the point of view that religion is something that is needed. The language of the poem also suggests this point of view. In the lines where the clumsy character is in the foreground, the language is simple and conversational ("though", "some brass and stuff", "God knows how long"), while the meditative character uses many religious expressions ("parchment, plate and pyx", "roodlofts", "equably"). Some words are from the King James Bible ("ruin-bibber", as Parkinson (228) suggests), and some words used to have a strong Christian meaning, such as "serious" (meaning religious, as Lerner (18) suggests) or "ghostly" (meaning spiritual and saint, as Parkinson (229) suggests). If we accept Parkinson's suggestion of the interpretation of "serious" then the lines, "someone will forever be surprising / A hunger in himself to be more serious" means that religion will never be lost "completely". In addition, the third stanza suggests that there will always be people to search for God or something to believe in, "Wondering what to look for", therefore religion will never fade away. To the question of what remains if disbelief is gone or what remains if belief is gone, the answer seems to be the same: there is no human race without a belief in something. The line "that much never can be obsolete" suggests that belief will never die even if it rejects the state of being "less deceived" (as the title of the volume would suggest), since in church "our compulsions meet [...] and [are] robed". Having drawn such a conclusion it must nevertheless be said that this thesis has to be dissociated from Larkin, simply because it is very far from his views on Christianity. The wish to be "less deceived" is denied here with the claim that although belief makes for nothing but lies, it is still necessary because it provides stability in life . The duality of the narrator-character gives the poem a frame, even though the final stanza falls out of this frame - not without a purpose, as will be discussed later. The frame itself is a person, a very ambiguous person, who cannot decide between science and religion. He has two "minds", a clever and cynic and an open and sensitive one (Whalen 14), and these two debate. Interestingly, the first is always the one who states something, e.g. "this place was not worth stopping for" or "I've no idea / what this accoutered frowsy barn is worth". The second thinks these statements over immediately to come up with a different point of view that may not be rational but always seeks for proof of religion emotionally e.g. "wondering what to look for" or "for which / was built this special shell [ ] pleases me to stand in silence here". To put it differently, this person is both "Bored, uninformed" and "tending to this cross of ground", as the narrator states about the "representative" of himself. The "special shell" entices the intruder to stay there, but it is also a place of worship, and the narrator of 'A Stone Church Damaged by a Bomb' does worship it. He does not only worship the Church because it seems

to be deathless (since he knows that it is a lie) but because it can face death around it and can still work as if nothing happened ("bells / Beat" or "Windows throw back the sun"). Still, "death remained / To scatter magnificence" and it betrays the building, since the narrator recognizes the "patterns" of damage. The last stanza of 'Church Going' provides another interpretation of the poem, changing both the speaker's point of view and the subject. The narrator becomes transformed from the clumsy, ignorant man to an independent thinker and the subject changes from the actual issue about churches to the problem of religion itself, thereby transcending the poem's immediate content. This stanza is not only a conclusion of the poem but takes the thoughts on the topic further. By this, Larkin, the poet, gets closer to the narrator, and the views expressed here are closer to his own. It provides another interpretation of the poem, and at the same time it continues the thought that was not finished in the stanza before, namely "who / Will be the last [...] to seek / this place for what it was?" It answers that there will be no such person because "someone will forever be [...] serious", and therefore religion will never fade away. The symbols used in the poem come back in this last stanza (and are similar to the symbols of 'A Stone Church Damaged by a Bomb'), e.g. "cross of ground" here as "serious earth" ("chiseled, flung-up faith", or "magnificence" while the "serious earth" was "shapeless" in the juvenilia) or "superstition, like belief, must die", here "so many dead lie around" ("the dead are shapeless" or "death remained"). The last stanza's symbols suggest that there is a need for a "serious earth", but the poet is the only one who cannot find what it gives to mankind. There will always be somebody who can obtain what the church offers, and he wants to be one of these people. There is a kind of envy in this last stanza since before, the poem was trying to pretend that churches are worthless, while here the poet admits that he is searching for the worth of churches. The last line, "so many dead lie around", offers also another interpretation, especially if it is coupled with "Though where they lie / The dead are shapeless in the shapeless earth" (of 'A Stone Church Damaged by a Bomb'). As it was seen in 'An Arundel Tomb', lie has two meanings and these two meanings lend two interpretations to the poem. Here, too, is another interpretation, assuming that lie means "to tell an untruth"; the final conclusion is that the dead lie about church and its indispensability, therefore churches are worthless, since to "gravitate [...] to this ground" will not tell the truth, only lies. This also suggested by the thought that "all our compulsions meet / Are recognized and robed as destinies", since this exhibits a negative attitude towards the church. It could also mean that what the dead lie about is that church is a place of peace, and yet they died there (in 'A Stone Churhc Damaged by a Bomb'), and therefore it cannot be peaceful. To sum this up, the main message of the poem is that no matter how hard the poet tries to pretend how uninterested he is in the subject of religion, at the end it becomes clear that he does search for it. Although the Church is described as either something negative or something uninteresting, the narrator still searches for it. Only the dead know the truth about whether there is or isn't a heaven, but the narrator cannot decide if they would tell him the truth or only "lie round". 'A Stone Church Damaged by a Bomb' is the poem of experience, as opposed to 'MXMXIV', which was the poem of innocence. "The prayer killed into stone" remains in silence and becomes the emblem of the postChristianity era. This prayer is the past that could not survive the loss of religion and thus had to die. The damage the war has inflicted is therefore not only seen in a building but in faith itself too, it is an irreversible damage, but one that gave "freedom" to Larkin's generation. That is the main message of the poem. 'High Windows' 'High Windows' is a very widely known and discussed poem. I will therefore not discuss it in any depth; only try to assemble critical comments on its connection to religion or Christianity. These comments fall into two main categories, those who consider the poem totally irreligious and having nothing to do with Christianity, and those who, in contrast, claim that the poem is really about Christianity.

In the context of this paper, the chief connection to the topic of religion is the very fact that Larkin's generation was the one that was able to do away with Christianity (Rcz, 155). It is important to note that it is not religion what they reject but the ecclesiastical system. "Sweating in the dark / About [ ] / What you think of the priest," to my mind, these lines do not mean that religion as such has disappeared but that is no longer necessary to be Christian. In light of the last stanza it means exactly the opposite, i.e. that there is some kind of a religion somewhere, what has changed is that now it does not lie in the rules but only in personal decisions or, to use Larkin's words, the "endlessness". Endlessness is an important notion in the poem, it can be found two times: once in the middle of the poem and then at the very end, (which position is actually very central in a poem). The two instances are related, the first refers to something that follows while the other to something preceding it, the first to the young, the second to the old. That can either mean the deceased in Heaven or the deceased as "nothing", gone without a trace. These opposites make endlessness a property that describes life as something continuous, even if there are changes "endlessly". Continuousness does not mean constancy but ongoing change. An important interpretation of this endlessness would be freedom, since this is what Larkin seems to strive for, even though it is impossible to reach it (since he is in a room). In other words, freedom is only an illusion because it is relative, as Swarbrick (136) suggests (the generation before Larkin's had the freedom of belief, while the one after Larkin's had the freedom of sex). There are different interpretations about the meaning of the last stanza. Booth, who refuses to treat Larkin as a poet who has anything to do with Christianity, says that the title refers to the poet's own windows, and the image of blue air is only a description of reality without any transcendental meaning (167). Rcz, for example, claims that the endless blue air does have an underlying meaning, that of eternal clarity (155). Watson calls interprets this notion as "beyond the known and limited lies the unknown and unlimited" (355) i.e. the universal God. Lerner (30) ignores the meaning of the "high windows", still he calls the vision "open-ended" i.e. that the last image of the poem opens unto nothing therefore it ends with "a glimpse of absence and emptiness" (31-32). Walcott called the last lines tender, prayerlike, sacred and translucent (39) with other poems as 'Water' or 'Coming'. I am most likely to agree with Rcz for one important reason: The whole poem flows towards one main image, namely that although every generation becomes more and more independent, there still are some things within us that we cannot get rid of. Endlessness is one of these main images, and an endless blue sky is truly a Christian image. This is again an image that Larkin cannot get rid of exactly because of his origins (i.e. that he is English). This does not mean that he might be Christian (he certainly was not) but that his life is immersed in Christianity, and that is why he uses these images even when he tries to pretend that he already got rid of them. In this respect, the high windows can refer to a church (in the sense of "the high building I see every day"), although this is not the meaning a Christian would uphold. This church is only the image of his most prominent theme, the symbol of an age that has already declined (with his generation, as the poem proposes). Still it is in the very "blood" of every member of European culture. Nevertheless, I also accept Booth's point of view that these windows are Larkin's own, since that is a biographical fact. However, this does not mean that the high windows of a room cannot take on the image of church windows. The voice of the poem elevates Larkin's study into a sacred environment, a church, in the poet's mind, just as Christians find God in prayer as they immerse into their inner temples. A further reason why Christianity could be important in the poem is that its basic situation has to do with expiration. The upcoming generation has taken on new roles in life, just as Larkin had done when he was young. That does not mean that the next generation would have it better, which projects that coming generations will always have their own innovations, and all human beings will always face their own passing while observing a new generation. 'Passing' is a fundamental issue that Christianity tries to deal with. To put it very profanely, they say that dead souls go to heaven, up above is the endless blue sky. The image of the sky, therefore, is simply an imagery derived from the "kids" of the first stanza.

Still, there are images that either question the validity of these new laws of life, or they refer to the poet's envy of the young (Swarbrick 135). The main image is the slide that refers to a downward direction, that is a direction towards Hell, or in a more common imagery, something bad, as in such words as "lower class", "downfall", etc. "Going down the long slide / To happiness" is therefore ambiguous, either meaning "exhilaration or panic" (Lerner 31) quite like saying that common and ugly things are the source of happiness. We have to see that two different shapes come out of the poem. One is a circle that represents the circularity of the poem (the cyclic quality of the generations was also suggested by Lerner 31). Sliding downwards to the upper regions means that every downward movement ends up in an upward movement and therefore the whole movement is circular. Also, the two occurrences of endless, first associated with the bottom then going to the top, makes endlessness a whole, a circle. Also the diverse imagery "He / And his lot will all go down the long slide / Like free bloody birds" raises the image of circling birds (drawing a parabola) from their upward slide (as eagles swoop upon their prey). The other geometrical forms that come out of the poem are two lines. Every generation has some novelties they could make of their own. Larkin's generation could dispose of Christianity as a compulsory religion, while the following generation could have a freer sexual life . That does not mean that Larkin's generation was more restricted, only that it was different. The whole image is a linear one. It is also important to point out that it is not a "downward line" but a constant, therefore horizontal one. The thought of up and down has another important role. Even if it is pointed out that to be a part of a later generation does not mean automatically to be "better" or "worse" in any way, still we have the visual image of the earlier generations "above" the later ones. Both Larkin and the generation before him imagined that the younger generations were in a slide. Larkin was not "sweating in the dark // About hell", which might mean that he was closer to Hell than those who did. However, when he is older, he looks down on the young from his high windows. At the same time, the elder generations who have died are above him in Heaven. This image presents another line, a vertical one. Obviously, these two lines, especially with a circle at the point where they intersect, make up a cross. It may be too farfetched to say that this was Larkin's intent, however. The numerous images suggest that the poem uses symbolistic techniques, as Motion (1992, 81) claimed. The most interesting image in this poem is the "sun-comprehending glass" that can be associated with Shelley's "Dome of many-colour'd glass" in 'Adonais' (line 463). Since 'Adonais' was written on the occasion of Keats's death, it is on the boundary between life and death, and it can be considered as a religious poem, even though Shelley himself was not a religious poet. Bringing this line from 'Adonais' into context ("The One remains, the many change and pass; / Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly; / Life, like a dome of many-colour'd glass, / Stains the white radiance of Eternity, / Until Death tramples it to fragments.", lines 461-465), we can see that the "manycolour'd glass" refers to eternity as "The sun-comprehending glass" does to endlessness in 'High Windows'. This is, therefore, another evidence of the religious interpretation of the poem's ending. 'Vers De Socit' Besides many implicit allusions, this poem in the fourth stanza explicitly articulates the name of God. "Talking to God (who's gone too)" in my reading means that God did exist in an earlier period. With this, the poem can be associated with 'High Windows'. Both poems claim that the generation before Larkin's had - or claimed to have - a different point of view regarding religion. Unlike the narrator of 'High Windows', who is more likely to be associated with Larkin himself as Booth's remark of his own windows might suggest, the narrator of 'Vers De Socit' is a detectable character who has many different "voices" in the poem e.g. "cynic, jester, failure, and forgiver" (Kuby 153). Therefore, we have to separate the author from the poetic persona (Booth 92). These provide the fluctuation of the tone of

the poem that helps to define the mood of a party. In modern society parties are the main social events, therefore they can be associated with the latest changes in society that Larkin might want to project. The poem's "language fluctuates between colloquial obscenities and quiet sadness, cynic and humanist and the satiric speaker's derogatory epithets" (Kuby 154). This might show the different feelings that the poem consists of. Being at a party evokes several different feelings, the ones that are one's real thoughts and those that one has to pretend to think or feel. This is reflected in the poem's fluctuations. The narrator still calls it "funny how hard it is to be alone". This can refer either to the difficulty of being alone i.e. the pressure to live a social life, or the difficulty to bear to be alone. The latter might be more important from our point of view, because it provides an evolutionary explanation about the alienation of present-day society. People in the previous generations enjoyed being together, people of Larkin's generation are the first to prefer to be alone, and this is something that is still strange to the narrator. This is an unconscious aspect, since the narrator obviously prefers to be alone to chatting with "some bitch". The narrator seems to think that parties are a waste of time, but that society is an important feature of human life, therefore everyone has to bear the discomfort that goes with such events. Solitary would be ideal for him but since it is socially unaccepted (put into words with such emblems, as "Virtue is social") he remains "weak" to accept the invitation (King 21). The importance of this is emphasized by Larkin as a "humane and civilized member" of society in his poetry (Heaney, 152). Interestingly, Christianity is based exactly on social features (to be good to other people even if those are not good to us, to help others or to talk about Christianity to others, etc.). The main image of the poem from the perspective of my paper is how the loss of Christianity causes the decline of social activity. "Are, then these routines // Playing at goodness, like going to church?" is another interesting line. This might mean that being Christian is considered something "good", therefore to go to church makes the person who does so someone who is "good" . Hence, the people who are not religious still go to church only to be "good". This is a very positive attitude towards Christianity that cannot be found in most of Larkin's other poems. Of course there could be another interpretation of the image, namely that people are not really religious but are still the hypocrites who go to church and feign piousness. This interpretation would indicate that to be Christian evokes a positive attitude towards Christians, which is also very unusual for Larkin. If one were to adhere to the point of view that Larkin believed religion has disappeared from our society, as was seen in 'High Windows', the conclusion would be that only hypocrites attend church, therefore Christianity itself is a masquerade. Since I do not believe the idea that there are no religious people in the world anymore, I will abandon this interpretation. On the other hand, the previous generation's Christianity had value. By claiming that "No one now / Believes the hermit with his gown and dish / Talking to God " the narrator exhibits a positive attitude towards this previous age. Larkin liked to call himself a hermit , but if hermits do not exist anymore then this role of Larkin's is gone too (Rossen 37). This age where hermits were almost as respected as God Himself was over, and by the time the poem was written, both hermits and Christianity had become pejorative. Therefore, the age where Christianity was common and compulsory was more social than Larkin's age, and with Christianity gone, society in Larkin's time has become more hypocritical and alienated. Society and its influence are very important in human life, but modern civilized people become more and more alienated. This produces many hypocrites, especially at superficial social gatherings. Modern civilization resulted in an alienated society, and there is no cementing force to help solve the situation. Christianity was very effective in this sense, but with Christianity gone, this effect is also gone.

Church Going
Once I am sure there's nothing going on I step inside, letting the door thud shut. Another church: matting, seats, and stone, And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff Up at the holy end; the small neat organ; And a tense, musty, unignorable silence, Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off My cycle-clips in awkward reverence, Move forward, run my hand around the font. From where I stand, the roof looks almost newCleaned or restored? Someone would know: I don't. Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce 'Here endeth' much more loudly than I'd meant. The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence, Reflect the place was not worth stopping for. Yet stop I did: in fact I often do, And always end much at a loss like this, Wondering what to look for; wondering, too, When churches fall completely out of use What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep A few cathedrals chronically on show, Their parchment, plate, and pyx in locked cases, And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep. Shall we avoid them as unlucky places? Or, after dark, will dubious women come To make their children touch a particular stone; Pick simples for a cancer; or on some Advised night see walking a dead one? Power of some sort or other will go on In games, in riddles, seemingly at random; But superstition, like belief, must die, And what remains when disbelief has gone? Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky, A shape less recognizable each week, A purpose more obscure. I wonder who Will be the last, the very last, to seek This place for what it was; one of the crew That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were? Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique, Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh? Or will he be my representative, Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground

Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt So long and equably what since is found Only in separation - marriage, and birth, And death, and thoughts of these - for whom was built This special shell? For, though I've no idea What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth, It pleases me to stand in silence here; A serious house on serious earth it is, In whose blent air all our compulsions meet, Are recognised, and robed as destinies. And that much never can be obsolete, Since someone will forever be surprising A hunger in himself to be more serious, And gravitating with it to this ground, Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in, If only that so many dead lie round.

Ltva, hogy nincs bent senki, benyitok. Dndl az ajt, becsapja magt. Megint egy templom. Sznyegek, padok, kis imaknyvek, szerteszt virg barnll vasrnap ta; fent kicsiny orgona, szently; rzholmik amott, dohos, feszlt, idtlen csend lebeg krm, mig elfogdva kezdem m, leszedni bokacsiptetimet. Lpek tovbb, a szenteltvz-fog melll ujultnak ltom a tett Restaurltk tn? Nem tudhat. Megllok fent a knyvllvny eltt, tfutok nhny nagybets igt. S ln vge" kondul hangom a falon, kuncogva elhal. Htul, a vendgknyvbe mig nevem bejegyzem, pnzt dobok perselybe, mg elmormogom: kr volt megllni itt. Meglltam mgis. Gyakran gy teszek, s bizony gyakran zavarban vagyok; tndm, mrt is jttem, s afelett, hogy a divatjuk vesztett templomok sorsa mi lesz, ha nhnyt, miknt ezt is, meghagyjuk: pergamenteket, kelyhek ezstjt mutatni, mig a tbbi esk lesz meg juhok? Baljs helyek, nem is megynk oda. Flnk n jn majd alkonyat utn, hogy gyermeke rintsen egy kvet, gygyfvet tpjen rk ellen, s netn vrt jszakn lessen ksrtetet?

gy-gy, valami erre kapat: jtk rejtlye, zavaros talny. De a hit is meghal babonakpp, s a hitetlensg multn mi marad? F, gyomlepett k, szeder, tmfal, g. Egy jelkp itt hetenknt sorvadoz, s clja homlyosul. Ki lesz vajon az utols, ki azutn nyomoz, mi volt e hely elszr? Tn olyan, ki kopogtat, jegyezget, rm komoly, vagy romturklk, rgisgbuzik pldnya, vagy egy szentfazk: serny orral myrrht, meg orgont szagol? Vagy mint tudatlan bmsz, ahogy n, ki ltja, hogy a lelkiledk sztporlott, mgis, a bozton t

e keresztforma telekre belp, ide, hol egytt volt sok, mi szertevlt ksbb: menyegz, hall, szlets, hol e zrt kagyl rizgette rg eszmiket? Fogalmam sincs, mit r ily cifra, dohos csr, ez az egsz, de tetszik mgis, ahogy csendben ll. Komoly tjon komoly hz, keverk legben clunk mind egymsra lel; kinyilvnul s fellti vgzett. S ez mr elg, hogy ne vljn el, mert mindig lesz, ki azzal gyri le szomjt, hogy tle ittasulva mg komolyabban vgydik ide majd, s mondjk, ez itt a blcsessg helye, hisz annyi holtat rejt krl a hant. Fodor, Andrs