Friday, 1 June 2012

Hitchens gets Larkin

Peter Hitchens on the poet Philip Larkin (with some asides on contemporary religious practice). I agree. I think Larkin's work  will survive and be read a hundred years hence, unlike that of some of his contemporaries. There's a lyricism to his curmudgeonly realism which sticks in the mind and won't go away:

"...He says at one point ( in ‘Aubade’ , another unforgettable reflection on death) that religion is ‘a vast moth-eaten musical brocade, created to pretend we never die’ .
I love the idea of a vast, moth-eaten musical brocade, all faded golds, reds and blues, frayed at the edges and thin enough to let bright sunlight pass through it. And I can easily picture just such a thing hung up in the side-aisle of a little-visited, second-rank cathedral or other great church somewhere in provincial England – perhaps Beverley Minster, close to Larkin’s unbeloved Hull. And it would be hard to come up with a more succinct description of the Church of England as it was before the modernisers got to work. Once again, like all really good poetry, it lodges and settles in the memory without the slightest difficulty.
But what if the brocade, rather than being a pretence and a curtain in front of emptiness, was telling the truth?  What if the brocade was created to proclaim, rather than pretend, that we never die – and that we have come to prefer to believe that death is the end because we do not love the implications of the other idea?
What if the idea that what will survive of us is love, as Larkin suggests in ‘An Arundel Tomb’ is not an almost-instinct, almost true, but the exact truth? What if the trees are coming into leaf, not ‘like something almost being said’ but like something truly being said? Did Larkin ever wonder? I bet he did..."
Read it all here 

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