Larkin’s animal poems – 5
The weakest of the seven – yes, there’s two more – wasn’t included in any of his mature collections. Rightly so, it really is just about pigeons.
First published together with First Sight (click here) as Two Winter Pieces in the Times Educational Supplement 13 July 1956, and then alone in Departure (Jan 1957).
On shallow slates the pigeons shift together,
Backing against a thin rain from the west
Blown across each sunk head and settled feather.
Huddling round the warm stack suits them best,
Till winter daylight weakens, and they grow
Hardly defined against the brickwork. Soon,
Light from a small intense lopsided moon
Shows them, black as their shadows, sleeping so.