Dingo the Dissident

THE BLOG OF DISQUIET : Qweir Notions in the Armpit of Diogenes by DINGO the DISSIDENT binge-thinker since February 2008.
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Thursday, 28 August 2014

"Never write anything because it is true,

only because it is beautiful",
wrote Philip Larkin (to himself)
in his seventh Workbook. He was a dreary,
efficient, and much-honoured Man of the World
who also wrote one or two fine poems.

7 comments:

Karl said...

Somewhat harsh on Larkin, I feel. He was a Librarian, an honourable profession, an animal lover, a non-procreator and author of many magnificent poems in the tradition of Hardy. Nor did he ever succumb to the 'London Literary scene'.

Wofl said...

I am very ambivalent about Larkin. Why did he refuse to be Poet Laureate but accept a Commandership of the British Empire ? There is something sordid about him, but not the marvellous squalor of Verlaine. There is something 'superior' about him, too, but nothing like the loftiness of Rilke or Ungaretti or Enzensberger.

Karl said...

He didn't want to become Laureate because of the exposure and the need to 'write to order'. He was a patriotic Englishman, hence accepting the CBE, which comes with no obligations attached. As for the 'sordidness' I guess you're refering to his porn cache and racism. Well, that only came to light due to his letters being published. I'm sure he's hardly the only one, and for me it doesn't affect the poetry. You might find this interesting. Review of a new biography: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/22/philip-larkin-james-booth-review

Willard Herman said...

....who doesn;t have something "sordid" about them?

Existence is ー ignoble and sick, sad and misdirected....no matter what they do, believe, write, or advocate....this is the shanty town to Nothingness....

....i am a librarian, oddly enough....@Karl, nice!! i suppose i think of it as honorable too. Not too sure what good it does....?!

Wofl said...

Karl,
There is something very prissy and uptight about Larkin. He accepted a CBE which required no effort – had he, however, accepted the Poet Laureateship {is that a word?} he had it in his power to translate it into something meaningful,, even outrageous – but he took reward and "establishment" honour
because the CBE demanded no responsibility, and so he deserved to die a mean and resentful death. He had No Moral Fibre, no sense of fun (except in trad jazz on records), and was a rather craven individual who wrote a handful of reallt good poems.

For me, however, life as art is much more worthy of admiration than art as art, which is so often dependent upon the whim of the Important People, those who - in fact - form our opinions for us.

Karl said...

Anthony, I agree about Life as art, given that 'Art' is, as you say, largely an establishment business.

I still think you are being somewhat hard on Larkin, though. I find him more likeable than Amis, Auden and nearly all his other contemporaries.

And some of the poems are masterful. High WIndows is one for all time.

Willard, I too have worked in libraries. In a world of horror, they are oases of calm (as well as sometimes mind-crushing boredom and despair:-))

Wofl said...

Just think what Larkin could have written as Poet Laureate - a position of grace and favour from which it is impossible to be sacked without a huge furore! As for poetry qua poetry - Betjeman's is at least as good, and what a wonderful, naughty, heroic and engaging life he led! "A lesson for us all", indeed.

But Larkin's verse is better than that if MacNeice & co., I'll give you that!