Did you arise and go then, did you go to Innisfree?
Or when you’d got the bike out did it look a bit like rain?
Did you murmur, as you went inside to make a cup of tea,
“Tomorrow…Unless it rains again.”
Perhaps you went and tried it, but by the end of a week
You’d had enough of eating beans, of always being bored
And the crickets, bees and linnets, then the roof began to leak,
So you snuck off to an inn, you old fraud.
In springtime, when your friends said, Why not go to France this year?
You blethered about bean-rows and the cricket/linnet/bee.
You’d done your sums, you realised that travel could be dear.
That’s the joy of imagination, innit – ‘s’free!
A protest from Philip Larkin’s partner Monica Jones (lecturer in the English Dept. at Leicester University):
“I always think that the 9 bean rows bit is nonsense – 9 bean rows and live alone: anybody who’s ever tried to keep up with one or two bean rows in August will know that this is rubbish; better to keep one bean row and 9 hives for the honey bee – honey will keep. This is a bit frivolous perhaps, but not altogether so. Anyway, it’s something to think about; and can this sort of poem tell the practical truth? 9 bean rows! The liar! It’s all artificial and this proves that it is.”
It is of course a wonderful poem.
I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight ‘s all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.