Sunday, May 23, 2010

Joys of Larkin

(reflections on Philip Larkin by way of an essay published on line in CONTEMPORARY POETRY REVIEW.)

The late writer Rachel Wetzsteon begins her essay "Philip Larkin and Happiness" with a disclaimer:  the title isn't one of those jokes, along the lines of a slim volume called "German Humor."  For the famous curmudgeon, she writes, happiness was key to his work, even in its absence.

The article cites a poem that took me by surprise a week ago.  Called simply, "Coming," the poem conjures the look and feel of sunset outside a row of suburban homes at that time of year when days are getting longer. When a thrush sings, "astonishing the brickworks,"  Larkin reflects that the feeling is like that of a child "Who comes on a scene / Of adult reconciling."  Without understanding why, the child "starts to be happy."

Reading this at a deli as the sun rose on a Saturday, following an exhausting Friday, I felt that happiness unfold in me. 

I've written elsewhere on this blog about the joys of Larkin.  I recommend Ms.Wetzteon's essay, which focuses on a marvelous poem called "Born Yesterday."

1 comment:

Susan said...

Glad you wrote about Philip Larkin: he's one of those poets I like, but forget about until someone mentions him. It was good to know about "Coming." My reading of Larkin is kind of hit and miss, and I had missed that one. It reminds me a bit of the affect of two I have read and like a lot, "New Year Poem" and "The Mower," both of which have that a-ha moment at the end that can make you cry. An aesthetic moment that fringes into the religious moment? (Yes, I know he's an atheist, but he does this just the same-- at least when I read him.)