Poetry of Departures



Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand,
As epitaph:
He chucked up everything
And just cleared off,
And always the voice will sound
Certain you approve
This audacious, purifying,
Elemental move. – First Stanza of Philip Larkin’s “Poetry of Departures”

There is that part of my mind that wonders about the whole “Grass being greener” cliché but surely somewhere it must be – work can’t be as mundane as this can it? How often do we ask ourselves that question on a daily basis? You know a cleaner on minimum wage and zero hour contract will probably ask it just as much as the CEO of a multi-national looking out their corner office in a Manhattan Skyscraper. Is anyone happy in their job or do these mythical “happy and fulfilling” positions even exist?

Larkin’s poem is more about walking out of a home or a family and rebuilding the perceived idea of perfection, but I’d consider that part of that rebranding and new life would involve everything. How many people do we know who took the decision to just go? I know a few and most moved abroad – Australia being the major destination with few saying they would ever come back after their experience out there. USA is another possible relocation site with the Houston links to Aberdeen’s Oil Industry and again positives are spoken of.

Is it the job, the country, the weather or is it us? Us Brits are notoriously pessimistic, cynical, negative people but is that our people, culture or environment? Even in times of affluence and economic boom there is misery running through us like sticks of Blackpool rock. The seaside resort represents us as a nation well – seen better days, used to be important and the ups and downs of the roller coasters are predictable. So how do we change it? It’s not through politics – it’s through people and those same people taking risks to see how the grass is over there.

I’d love to live and work elsewhere, even for a short time just for the experience but both close and wider family ties reduce the likelihood of that happening. So the only viable option is to take the bull by the horns and take a few risks to try to find that job that makes me happy. Then again I’m maybe looking at this the wrong way round – should I take the horn by the bull and think big instead? I need to so something because I’ve discovered that new-found optimism I had at the start of the year had a best before date and I haven’t found a new supplier yet. Need a fix of positivity soon to keep me going.


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