Scepticism and poetry an essay on the poetic imagination

Larkin was a fine reader of his work and the Archive is delighted to be able to present for the first time extracts from a newly-discovered recording dating from the early 1980s. It was made by John Weeks, the sound archivist at Hull University, and so a colleague of Larkin's. Despite the relaxed circumstances in which the sessions were recorded (on a series of Sunday afternoons following a leisurely lunch) the sound quality is excellent. Significant too is the extent of the recording: in choosing to read just shy of thirty poems, Larkin seems to be offering an overview of his career, as if aware he was nearing its end. The tapes were discovered in a garage by Mr Weeks' son and a commercial release will be forthcoming from Faber & Faber in January 2009. In the meantime, Archive listeners can enjoy a preview of Larkin's expert delivery of three of his most famous poems: 'Mr Bleaney', 'The Whitsun Weddings' and 'The Trees'. Larkin's voice on the page - full of hesitations and qualifications which give the impression of a mind caught in the act of thinking - is particularly suited to reading aloud. Larkin once said of his poems that he wanted to give readers the impression of "a chap chatting to chaps" and certainly his understated delivery does the colloquial aspect of his poetry justice. But this tone is balanced in these poems by a hard-won lyricism, transcendence even, especially in the final stanza of 'The Whitsun Weddings' which shifts the language of the poem from realist description into heightened metaphor with the beautiful image of gathering emotional momentum as an arrow shower "somewhere becoming rain". It is such sudden openings, coupled with the subtle music of his highly-structured but flexible verse forms, that lifts Larkin's poetry beyond the misanthropy of which he sometimes stands accused.

Scepticism and poetry an essay on the poetic imagination

scepticism and poetry an essay on the poetic imagination

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