Archive | May 2010: Philip Larkin Special Issue

CPR Classic Readings: Philip Larkin’s “Broadcast”

While far from being the most ambitious and successful poem in The Whitsun Weddings, “Broadcast” seems to me in many ways among the most essentially Larkinesque of Philip Larkin’s poems, and at the same time the most uncharacteristically romantic.continue reading...

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CPR Classic Readings: Philip Larkin’s “Here”

Philip Larkin’s 1964 volume, The Whitsun Weddings, contains two poems describing train-journeys. One of them is the volume’s title-poem and is one of the most famous (and best-loved) poems in English since the Second World War; it has been said that with this work he brought a whole new English landscape into poetry.… continue reading...

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Philip Larkin and His Adjectives

His Plain Far-Reaching Singleness

I have two of Philip Larkin’s poems by heart—“Sad Steps” and “Aubade”—though I admire many more, and it was while reciting the former poem silently to myself during a particularly boring meeting that I noticed a number of things for the first time, most of them related in one way or another to the poet’s use of adjectives:

Groping back to bed after a piss
I part thick curtains and am startled by
The rapid clouds, the moon’s cleanliness.

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Philip Larkin and Happiness

On “Born Yesterday”

For those familiar with Philip Larkin’s work, the title of this short essay will seem to offer a juxtaposition so improbable as to be laugh-out-loud funny-rather like that old joke staple, the tiny book titled German Humor, or the admittedly unlikely prospect of a panel at a New Formalist conference on “The Achievement of the L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E Poets.” Indeed, if we do associate the word with Larkin, we’re most likely to think of poems in which happiness is mentioned as an absence-as in the narrator’s rueful longing in “High Windows” for “everyone young going down the long slide / To happiness, endlessly.” I don’t want to suggest that Larkin’s poetry gives us glimpses of joy with anything resembling regularity.… continue reading...

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