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Born Yesterday by Philip Larkin

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Most of all, may you be safe, may the spaces around you that I can’t touch be filled with my love, and may you go to sleep every night believing there’s always tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that.

Born Yesterday
Philip Larkin

For Sally Amis

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.

1 This is from Collected Poems by Philip Larkin, published by Farrar, Straus and Girroux, 2003.

2 This is a reading of Larkin’s poem, by Tom O’Bedlam.

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