Lines On A Young Lady's Photograph Album by Philip Larkin
At last you yielded up the album, which Once open, sent me distracted. All your ages Matt and glossy on the thick black pages! Too much confectionery, too rich: I choke on such nutritious images.
My swivel eye hungers from pose to pose -- In pigtails, clutching a reluctant cat; Or furred yourself, a sweet girl-graduate; Or lifting a heavy-headed rose Beneath a trellis, or in a trilby-hat
(Faintly disturbing, that, in several ways) -- From every side you strike at my control, Not least through those these disquieting chaps who loll At ease about your earlier days: Not quite your class, I'd say, dear, on the whole.
But o, photography! as no art is, Faithful and disappointing! that records Dull days as dull, and hold-it smiles as frauds, And will not censor blemishes Like washing-lines, and Hall's-Distemper boards,
But shows a cat as disinclined, and shades A chin as doubled when it is, what grace Your candour thus confers upon her face! How overwhelmingly persuades That this is a real girl in a real place,
In every sense empirically true! Or is it just the past? Those flowers, that gate, These misty parks and motors, lacerate Simply by being you; you Contract my heart by looking out of date.
Yes, true; but in the end, surely, we cry Not only at exclusion, but because It leaves us free to cry. We know what was Won't call on us to justify Our grief, however hard we yowl across
The gap from eye to page. So I am left To mourn (without a chance of consequence) You, balanced on a bike against a fence; To wonder if you'd spot the theft Of this one of you bathing; to condense,
In short, a past that no one now can share, No matter whose your future; calm and dry, It holds you like a heaven, and you lie Unvariably lovely there, Smaller and clearer as the years go by.