Today is the centenary of Philip Larkin’s birth. I’ll take the Collected Poems of the shelf later, but although that’s something I haven’t done for a while phrases, or even whole poems, of his cross my mind all the time. So many of us identify with Larkin because at his best his work combines a curmudgeonly, thwarted sense of life not being what you expected (or what was expected for you) with redeeming moments of tenderness.
I wasn’t familiar with the poem in the link below before I saw a link to journalist Rachel Cooke’s contribution to the New Statesman’s celebratory issue. I can’t put my response better than she does:
‘… a man listens to a concert on the radio knowing that the woman he quietly adores is there in the hall in person – “Your hands, tiny in all that air, applauding” – struck me then as infinitely beautiful: its aching fondness; its foreshadowing of loss; the way it balances both these things, and yet still finds, in all its sublime concision, words to convey the orchestra, the music, the audience.’,
Your Larkin thoughts please.