Sad Steps

By Philip Larkin

Groping back to bed after a piss
I part thick curtains, and am startled by   
The rapid clouds, the moon’s cleanliness.
 
Four o’clock: wedge-shadowed gardens lie   
Under a cavernous, a wind-picked sky.   
There’s something laughable about this,
 
The way the moon dashes through clouds that blow   
Loosely as cannon-smoke to stand apart   
(Stone-coloured light sharpening the roofs below)
 
High and preposterous and separate—   
Lozenge of love! Medallion of art!
O wolves of memory! Immensements! No,
 
One shivers slightly, looking up there.
The hardness and the brightness and the plain   
Far-reaching singleness of that wide stare
 
Is a reminder of the strength and pain   
Of being young; that it can’t come again,   
But is for others undiminished somewhere.

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