Thursday, 29 December 2011

Larkin to Poets' Corner?


I understand from today's Yorkshire Post that there is a move afoot to have Philip Larkin installed in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey alongside the likes of Tennyson, TS Eliot and Ted Hughes.
I think it is a splendid idea, I don't know about you.

Apparently Larkin was invited to be Poet Laureate in 1984. His health was not good and he felt that his best poetry was in the past. Also, as he disclosed to Betty, his secretary and lifelong friend, he didn't feel inclined to have to write poems about royal babies!

Of course Ted Hughes became the Laureate and this meant eventual installation in Poets' Corner. I think this amused Larkin somewhat as he remarked to his lifelong friend, Kingsley Amis, that he found it hard to live with being the cause of Ted Hughes ending up in Westminster Abbey.

Although he was born in Coventry, Hull is the place we always associate with Larkin because he spent the last thirty years of his life there, most of them as Librarian at the university of Hull.
He was given various honours in his lifetime (Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry; CBE; Companion of Honour) but anyone who has read his best poetry (try Lines on a Young Lady's Photograph Album from his book The Less Deceived) must surely agree that he should be there alongside the greats who go back to 1400 and Geoffrey Chaucer.

17 comments:

Heather said...

It is sad that Philip Larkin felt unable to accept the post of Poet Laureate and very fitting that he should be installed in Westminster Abbey along with all our other great poets.

John Gray said...

I have only read one of his poems....
"SUNNY PRESTATYN"
i WONDER WHY?

Eryl said...

I'm astonished to learn he isn't already there! I just assumed that as one of our greatest, most accessible poets he was. I always direct men who say they don't like poetry to Larkin, and they invariably come back thanking me. 'Mr Bleaney' and 'Church Going' are two of my favourites, though I do love 'Whitsun Weddings' too.

mansuetude said...

Yes.

Tom Stephenson said...

What was it your mum and dad did?

Dartford Warbler said...

I`m surprised he is not there already!

The Solitary Walker said...

I have no strong feelings either way about whether he should be in Westminster Abbey, Pat — but there should at least be some sort of memorial in Hull fish docks?

Cloudia said...

you have convinced me!



Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >

><}}(°>

< ° ) } } > <

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

The poem that always springs to mind concerns parents and what they do to you. That would be a dainty dish to set before the Queen!

Elisabeth said...

I'm with you here, Pat. Sorry to be absent for awhile. I keep missing your posts. I had to hunt this one out. I hope you're enjoying the festive season.

Rachel Fox said...

He's certainly my favourite... but I have no strong feelings about the abbey question. It's somewhere in that London place, isn't it?
x

Rachel said...

I think Philip Larkin may not want to be installed in Westminster Abbey and would not be very happy about it.

Crafty Green Poet said...

yes that would be apt!

Thanks for your comment on my blog about treecreepers, one of my favourite birds too and I've seen more of them than usual this year...

MorningAJ said...

I agree with Rachel - I'm not sure he would be too happy about it.

Gerry Snape said...

I'm with John on parents...I always told my children that I wasn't perfect so don't expect it! would he want to be there? not sure.

George said...

Far be it from me, Pat, to offer an opinion on who should be entombed in Westminster Abbey. I did, however, find this to be an amusing post. My heart goes out to any poet who declines an honor in order to avoid the need to write poems about royal babies.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Interesting that opinion should be divided on whether he should be there or not. One thing is for sure - you all seem to know THE poem. It has its own web site I find. Actually there is a lot of truth in the sentiment expressed in it, isn't there?