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.