By J. Booth
This ebook explores Larkin's specific position in the poetry of the 20 th century. It contains dialogue of Larkin's reaction to the tutorial professionalization of poetry fostered by means of "difficult" Modernism; his diversified poetry of affection (in relation to the responses of the poems' addressees); his unique improvement of the genres of reflective elegy and self-elegy; the main metaphor of the household inside; heritage as opposed to historicism; the poetry of position ("here" or Hull); and the profane and sacred (focusing on his animal poems).
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Extra resources for Philip Larkin: The Poet's Plight
33 Seamus Heaney, one of the few recent poets to have succeeded in making his living out of poetry, politely implies that the work of the ‘nine-to-five-man who had seen poetry’34 is insufficiently spiritually ‘corroborative’ to achieve the transcendence essential to the ‘redress of poetry’. 35 Larkin, interestingly, felt that the works of the professional poet Heaney were too ‘litty’ (SL 659). 36 However, though Larkin was prepared to describe himself in Who’s Who as a ‘librarian’, he would not have described himself as a ‘librarian-poet’, or ‘poet-librarian’.
One reason he gave for this was his early shyness, particularly his stammer: ‘I wasn’t a happy child: I stammered badly, and this tends to shape your life. You can’t become a lecturer or anything that involves talking… I still stammer’ (FR 48). It is not difficult to imagine that had he not suffered from this impediment, and had he not become increasingly deaf, Larkin could have overcome his objections and created a distinctive place for himself on the poetry circuit. In the privacy of the recording studio he produced some of the best readings by any poet of his own work.
Quite sicken you with the whole business of literature. But then, I haven’t got that kind of mind, conceptual or ratiocinative or whatever it is. (RW 60) Librarianship in itself does not involve the reading or studying of books or archives. It is a matter of managing their storage and distribution, and, in Larkin’s case, also overseeing extensive building projects: ‘I’m a librarian, I never see a book from one year’s end to another’ (FR 28). His current successor bears the title ‘Director of Academic Services’, the phrase ‘and Librarian’ being appended in deference to the University Statutes.
Philip Larkin: The Poet's Plight by J. Booth