Friday, June 01, 2012


Great piece in this week's NYRB, of a new edition (byArchie Burnett) of the poems of Philip Larkin--reviewed by the great appreciator, Christopher Ricks. I suspect Ricks is one of only three post-War poets some Brits can name--the others being Syvlia Plath and Ted Hughes. I tend to bracket him with what you might call the "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" generation--the bleak and sometime exhausted Britain, waking up to the fact that it had won the War but lost the piece and that never again would they hear the trumpets of Empire. I'll bet Maggie Thatcher never heard of Larkin, or never admitted to having hear of him; and if she had, she probably hated his gut.

It amuses me that Larkin was apparently great buds with another bleak comic, Barbara Pym. Someone--I forget who, perhaps it was me--wrote:
When Pym's spirits began to darken
She'd ring up Philip Larkin.

When clouds o'ershadowed him.
He'd call on Pym.

Maybe he repeated for you the tag-line to his aubade on death:

Most things never happen: this one will...

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