Saturday, 10 September 2016
A Strelley Tomb
The tomb of Sir Sampson de Strelley and Elizabeth, his wife - the founders of All Saints Church, Strelley - stands in a glorious 14th-century chancel, separated from the nave by a beautiful coved rood screen that has survived in immaculate condition because for centuries it was boarded over. Sir Sampson and his lady have the traditional lion and dog at their feet; she wears an elaborate and 'almost unique' headpiece, while his helmeted head rests peacefully on that of a strangled Saracen (the family crest). Those joined hands are more prominent than the Arundel hands, standing proud of the two figures and being visible the length of the nave, blazoning the stone fidelity they hardly meant.
Larkin's poem is an old chestnut, beloved of readers keen to seize on a 'message' Larkin is of course far too careful and conflicted ever to deliver: 'What will survive of us is love'. No more than a half-proof of an 'almost-instinct', this is hardly a ringing affirmation - and yet Larkin is full aware of its force. And yet, and yet...
Oh it is such a good poem, even a great poem - let's have it one more time: