Born Yesterday | A poem by Philip Larkin, 1954

Louise Blair Daura Untitled Louise and baby at Altafulla 1930s

Louise Blair Daura – Untitled (Louise and baby at Altafulla) – 1930s

Tightly-folded bud,
I have wished you something
None of the others would:
Not the usual stuff
About being beautiful,
Or running off a spring
Of innocence and love —
They will all wish you that,
And should it prove possible,
Well, you’re a lucky girl.

But if it shouldn’t, then
May you be ordinary;
Have, like other women,
An average of talents:
Not ugly, not good-looking,
Nothing uncustomary
To pull you off your balance,
That, unworkable itself,
Stops all the rest from working.
In fact, may you be dull —
If that is what a skilled,
Vigilant, flexible,
Unemphasised, enthralled
Catching of happiness is called.

Philip Larkin, Born Yesterday, 1954
for Sally, Kingsley Amis daughter

Lucky Jim the novel by Kingsley Amis
is dedicated to Philip Larkin

Sally Amis with her family
Sally Amis with her family, 1956


This Be The Verse | A poem by Philip Larkin, 1971
Aubade | A poem by Philip Larkin, 1977

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