Wild Oats

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That I was too selfish, withdrawn,   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 Whitsun Weddings. Copyright © Estate of Philip Larkin.  Reprinted by permission of Faber and Faber, Ltd.
Source: Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)
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