Wild Oats

By Philip Larkin 1922–1985 Philip Larkin
About twenty years ago
Two girls came in where I worked—
A bosomy English rose
And her friend in specs I could talk to.   
Faces in those days sparked
The whole shooting-match off, and I doubt   
If ever one had like hers:
But it was the friend I took out,

And in seven years after that   
Wrote over four hundred letters,   
Gave a ten-guinea ring
I got back in the end, and met   
At numerous cathedral cities   
Unknown to the clergy. I believe
I met beautiful twice. She was trying   
Both times (so I thought) not to laugh.

Parting, after about five
Rehearsals, was an agreement   
That I was too selfish, withdrawn,   
And easily bored to love.
Well, useful to get that learnt.   
In my wallet are still two snaps
Of bosomy rose with fur gloves on.   
Unlucky charms, perhaps.

Philip Larkin, “Wild Oats” from Collected Poems. Used by permission of The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Philip Larkin.

Source: Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Philip Larkin 1922–1985

POET’S REGION England

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Love, Relationships, Men & Women, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Philip  Larkin

Biography

Philip Larkin, an eminent writer in postwar England, was a national favorite poet who was commonly referred to as "England's other Poet Laureate" until his death in 1985. Indeed, when the position of laureate became vacant in 1984, many poets and critics favored Larkin's appointment, but the shy, provincial author preferred to avoid the limelight. An "artist of the first rank" in the words of Southern Review contributor John . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Love, Relationships, Men & Women, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION England

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.