Philip Larkin and Push-Up Bras

Aug 23 2014

I like the poem “Aubade” by Philip Larkin. It’s one of the last poems he wrote, and it’s probably his darkest:

The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

He dismisses the false solace of religion in six words (“That vast moth-eaten musical brocade”) and the efficacy of a stiff upper lip (“Death is no different whined at than withstood”). It’s clear-eyed, devastating, and comforting, too, in a way, to acknowledge the reality that usually remains, as he puts it, “just on the edge of vision/A small unfocused blur, a standing chill.”

The second Google result for “aubade” is Larkin’s poem. The first result is the website for a brand of lingerie that goes by that name. Aubade sells an open-up triangle bra that features what is described, intriguingly, as a “magic button.” Another bra is somewhat mysteriously named “Woodstock Memories,” a reference to an event not normally associated with the wearing of undergarments in general, and certainly not with the frilly wonders offered up by Aubade.

The so-called moulded basque is a fascinating bit of business involving multiple straps and tiny clamps. Also for sale is an array of diaphanous kimonos that would be inappropriate to wear while, say, greeting the UPS guy at the door, unless you were interested in something more than timely receipt of your Amazon purchases.

I could go on. The point, though, is that on the way to what Larkin calls “unresting death” there are occasional distractions, some of which, like the discovery of a lingerie brand that shares a title with one of your favorite poems, are not entirely unpleasant.

(the end)