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Friday, November 18, 2011

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: PHILIP LARKIN: COLLECTED POEMS. The Marvell Press, London, 1988 (330 pages).

What I like about recommending books is that it saves me from writing a fully considered analysis. There is a lot to learn from Larkin's mature poetry especially his collections The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974). He writes with great economy and with an aching, layered profundity which constantly explores what this mess we call life is about. Personal favourites which I have studied closely elsewhere, include 'Ambulances', 'Here', 'Dockery and Son', 'Aubade' and 'The Life with a Hole in it'.

For a sprawling, highly authoritative biography of Larkin's personal life and his career as a writer you can't go wrong with Andrew Motion's: PHILIP LARKIN- A Writer's Life (faber and faber, London, 1993 (570 pages). The photo of  Larkin above is outside University of Hull Library where he worked as Head Librarian for decades.

Buy it here on Amazon:

Larkin was a very private person and refused almost all requests to read or discuss his poetry. He admired Thomas Hardy and the French symbolic writers of the 1890s like Mallarme. He dabbled in symbolism as a way to create mood and convey intense emotions. In his poems he often moves from his closely observed surroundings by evoking a series of illogical and obscure connections to escape the flow of time.

My favourite poem of Larkin's has to be 'Ambulances' for its terrifying & unshrinking view that death for all of us is only a matter of time, and that all that stuff that makes us unique as individuals will be quickly forgotten by others as time passes.

Find the poem here: