Today is the birthday of Philip Larkin, an English poet and novelist born in 1922 so it prompted me to dig out my old poetry books. I studied Larkin way back for my English A Level and loved his work, albeit it’s not the cheeriest. The books are full of childish scribbles which make the work strangely familiar when I read them now.
The writer’s reputation has soiled posthumously with suggestions of racism and right wing politics along with links to pornography. I don’t know how true the claims are but I do still love his work.
One of my favourites being…..
The Importance of Elsewhere
Lonely in Ireland, since it was not home,
Strangeness made sense. The salt rebuff of speech,
Insisting so on difference, made me welcome:
Once that was recognised, we were in touch.
Their draughty streets, end-on to hills, the faint
Archaic smell of dockland, like a stable,
The herring-hawker’s cry, dwindling, went
To prove me separate, not unworkable.
Living in England has no such excuse:
These are my customs and establishments
It would be much more serious to refuse,
Here no elsewhere underwrites my existence