How Distant

How distant, the departure of young men
Down valleys, or watching
The green shore past the salt—white cordage
Rising and falling.
Cattlemen, or carpenters, or keen
Simply to get away
From married villages before morning,
Melodeons play
On tiny decks past fraying cliffs of water
Or late at night
Sweet under the differently—swung stars,
When the chance sight
Of a girl doing her laundry in the steerage
Ramifies endlessly.
This is being young,
Assumption of the startled century
Like new store clothes,
The huge decisions printed out by feet
Inventing where they tread,
The random windows conjuring a street.
Other works by Philip Larkin...