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Love we must part now by philip larkin

He made a career as a responsible, dedicated, even talented librarian, and his quiet, self-effacing demeanor seemed to adhere more to the stereotypes attached to that profession than to those that govern our expectations of poets. After a liberating stint in Belfast, away from his family, he settled in the English city of Hull, living there from 1955 until the end of his life in 1985. His considerable reputation as a poet rested on a slim corpus.

During his lifetime his poems appeared in four full-length volumes: The first is apprentice work, pleasant but mostly unremarkable.

Love we must part now by philip larkin

All four are very modest in length. He had also, controversially, organized the poems by date of composition, an act of daring about which some literary scholars are still prone to lose sleep. There were other surprises in store, and more controversies to come.

Larkin thought a lot about sex, as it turns out, wrote about it in his letters, and talked about it to his friends and coworkers, sometimes in terms that were, one presumes, not entirely in line with accepted standards of professional conduct. Playing astutely on his youth he allowed his own romantic affections to become the subject of collective interest among his staff, and dramatized his lusts for particular students.

Larkin also had an interest in pornography, including, it seems, some violent and bondage-themed pornography; after his death his solicitor, Terry Wheldon, removed two large cardboard boxes of it from his residence, so as not to leave the bereaved to deal with and be disturbed by it.

It was, it appears, a courtesy Wheldon provided to many of his clients. Larkin shared his enthusiasm for pornography with his friends Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest; his letters to them contain numerous sexist remarks. They are also racist, in multiple places, or at the very least they appear to be.

Indeed, reading the selection of his letters published in 1992, one begins to feel that the Larkin who pined for the glory days of the Empire was pining, in part, for the era when England was something close to a whites-only club. Again we must say: For much of his life he carried on simultaneous romantic relationships with his colleague Maeve Brennan and with Monica Jones, a university lecturer at Leicester.

Brennan, who was traditional and Catholic, hoped he would marry her; Jones, whose more modern sensibility shared some of the resistance Larkin felt toward the institution of marriage, was more ambivalent.

Can you match the poet to the poem? Some of them are love poems, directed toward various beloveds. Oh, no one can deny That Arnold is less selfish than I. The messiness of his personal life — hinted at but not made fully manifest in the poems — surely caused both love we must part now by philip larkin and a not insignificant amount of emotional distress to all the participants, Larkin included.

And at least some of his lovers, Maeve Brennan chief among them, felt rather deceived when his letters became available: Still, those commentators who saw the posthumous backlash against Larkin, particularly when it focused on his personal romantic attachments, as excessively judgmental and narrow-minded must be acknowledged to have a point. He was, for the most part, not love we must part now by philip larkin, and on the whole seemed to treat his lovers with genuine consideration and care.

The small-minded and offensive political sentiments expressed in his letters ought, perhaps, to disturb us more, though there is always the difficulty of knowing when Larkin was being ironic he frequently was and when he was being sincere. He did not intend the letters for wide distribution, and he might well have expected those for whom they were meant to be able to tell the difference.

He was a poet, then, who reveled in mixing the high and the low, the sacred and the profane. So why not simply put the issue of personal evaluation aside? Surely the poems are one thing, and the poet another, so that we can take pleasure in the former without making up our minds to approve of the latter?

This is an attractive stance, but Booth — whose new biography of Larkin seems intended, in large part, as an exercise in rehabilitation, a book that will make it possible again to admire the poems without turning away from their author — is skeptical of the attempt to separate the two: Art and life are not entirely isolated from each other. It would be surprising, if one knew their poems but nothing about their lives, to be told that Wordsworth did not enjoy the outdoors or that John Berryman was a teetotaler with a low sex drive.

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On the other hand, while the composition of heartrending and effervescent poems may serve as evidence that the poet was not without emotions, it hardly seems to show he was a likable person or that he was free of racist prejudices. Surely the man meant it at least some of the time!

The fact is that to many contemporary readers, they will inevitably come across as a bit stale, a bit staid. Larkin would have regarded such apparent faults as virtues; he had little interest in radical, progressive, or experimental notions of what poetry ought to be, and mostly seemed to look back longingly to a tradition that rejected all of the more radical aspects of literary modernism. But whether by design or not, the effect of this conservative stance is that in comparison with such early 20th-century modernists as Eliot, Pound, Williams, and Crane — not to mention love we must part now by philip larkin contemporaries of Larkin as Allen Ginsberg whose revolutionary "Howl!

If Larkin had any curiosity about what was going on in the wider poetry world, there is almost no evidence of it. In fact he often seemed proud of his parochialism. Byron and Poe and so on.

The Russians liking Burns. But deep down I think foreign languages irrelevant. A writer can have only one language, if language is going to mean anything to him. Or at any rate it would take a more inspired writer than Booth to make it come across as such. Life, Art and Love leaves one with is that its subject was a small person, and sad. It was also a kind of obsession for him, providing a deep and pervasive injustice about which to complain, a cosmic villain to rebel against.

Even as a young man he seems to have felt the looming and terrifying presence of old age and of what lay beyond old age. I lead a very commonplace life. Everyday things are lovely to me. But by his mid-40s his fear of becoming an old man seems to have helped turn him into one. His heavy drinking and steadily increasing weight also contributed. From then on his life slid heavily downhill, both physically and emotionally. After the publication of "High Windows" he felt that his life as a writer had also reached its end, and he wrote almost nothing, though he lingered for more than a decade, occupying himself in other ways.

One shivers slightly, looking up there.