Tag Archives: t s eliot

Unreal City

Eliot spoke of an “unreal city”.
I could, perhaps, say something witty.
But, in this great city
A second lockdown starts today,
So there is nothing witty
I can say.

Read “The Wasteland”
For Eliot’s command
Of language surpasses mine.
‘Tis a bitter wine,
But, does, perhaps convey
What I wish to say.

My Review of Philip Larkin’s “High Windows”

I recently read “High Windows” by Philip Larkin, https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009R67L46/. Then, yesterday evening I discussed Larkin’s poetry with my old friend, Jeff.

Where I to be asked by someone unfamiliar with poetry, for a list of poets with whom they might start, Larkin would undoubtedly be amongst my recommendations. His verse is packed with meaning whilst not being overly difficult to grasp, making it an ideal starting place for the person with little, or no knowledge of poetry.

To state the above, is not to imply that Larkin’s verse is devoid of inner meanings – it is replete with them. However, his poetry can, I believe be appreciated by those who would be put off poetry for life where they to be introduced to Eliot’s “Wasteland” as their first taste of poetry. Whilst “The Wasteland” is a literary masterpiece, it is not an easy poem to grasp, and that is putting it mildly!

Turning specifically to “High Windows”, this short collection contains what is, in all probability the poet’s most famous poem, “This Be The Verse”, which begins “They fuck you up, your mum and dad”.

The above poem is not, in my view one of Larkin’s best poems, although I can, of course understand why it appeals to school children, who do, quite naturally, find something slightly subversive in “This be The Verse”.

A poem such as “The Old Fools” is much worthier of serious consideration. In it Larkin describes a group of elderly people, many of whom have (or are in the process of succumbing to dementia. Larkin’s description lacks sentimentality, and he acknowledges that all of us will become, in the end “old fools”.

Larkin can be cynical (or truthful depending on one’s point of view). In his poem, “Going, Going” he decries the destruction of the environment:

“For the first time I feel somehow
That it isn’t going to last,

That before I snuff it, the whole
Boiling will be bricked in
Except for the tourist parts—
First slum of Europe: a role
It won’t be hard to win,
With a cast of crooks and tarts.”

Cynical? or truthful? you pays your money and you makes your choice.

In fact, “Going, Going” contains both elements of cynicism and truthfullness. But it is also a passionate defense of the environment, not from a left-wing perspective (for Larkin was a Conservative). Rather it is a poem decrying the impact of the masses on the natural world. and the commercial interests who are, in Larkin’s view, only too happy to build more shopping centres, factories, houses Etc.

I recommend “High Windows”.

Politics and Poetry

I met a young lady named Ling
Who said, “you poets are all left-wing!”.
I said, “between you and I,
Eliot was a Conservative kind of guy,
Whilst Philip Larkin was really right-wing!”.

Poets and Capitalism

An interesting article in “The American Spectator” entitled “Poets and Capitalism”. The piece contains a fascinating discussion regarding why so many poets have been (and continue to be) opposed to Capitalism, and makes the point that poets have often suffered under Communist regimes and, in the end its Capitalism which enables poets to freely pursue their craft.

I agree with the thrust of the article, which is, I believe worth a read, https://spectator.org/poets-and-capitalism/

28 Of Poetry’s Most Powerful Lines Ever Written

Thank you to my friend for drawing this article to my attention, “28 Of Poetry’s Most Powerful Lines Ever Written”, http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/world-poetry-day-28-of-poetrys-most-powerful-lines-ever-written-a6944301.html. There are many of my favourites here, including Emily Dickinson’s”As I Could Not Stop For Death” and W. B Yeats’s “The Second Coming”.

Do you judge writers?

Christopher Slater raises an interesting issue in this article entitled “Do you judge writers?” (https://ryanlanz.com/2017/02/16/do-you-judge-writers/)

My own view is that while it is difficult not to judge writers (their morals or lack of them), one should, so far as is humanly possible avoid doing so. A great writer remains so even if he (or she) was/is a terrible parent to their children or held/holds views with which most liberal (with a small l) individuals would disagree.

In this article for the Telegraph A N Wilson mentions the poet, Philip Larkin’s wish (expressed in his correspondence) to join the far-right National Front and Eliot’s anti-Semitism (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3588935/World-of-books.html)

Wilson argues that we need to separate the author’s artistic creations from their views. This is a perspective with which I concur absolutely. We don’t have to share an author’s views to admire their work and if we only read those who concur with our perspectives our lives and the world in general would be a very arid place.

The Poetry Book Society is to close

The Poetry Book Society (PBS), founded by poet T. S. Eliot is to close following the withdrawal of Arts Council funding. For the Guardian article please visit (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/03/cuts-hit-poetry-book-society-to-close).

My Birthday

Today is my birthday. I am 47, although I must confess to not feeling any different to how I felt yesterday! I will spend today relaxing before meeting friends for drinks in my favourite pub, the Railway Bell this evening, then going on for a curry. Like Prufrock I shall grow old, wear my trousers rolled, walk along the beach and eat a peach. On second thoughts, I shall stick to a few convivial pints with friends followed by a good curry!

Kevin