Wednesday 30 March 2011

Something Almost Being Said

Over on the excellent First Known When Lost, Steve Pentz quotes Solar as a demonstration that Philip Larkin was not 'the dour personage of caricature'. Indeed not, though he could adopt the dour persona with wonderful conviction. Solar sent me back to High Windows - which I opened at this well known short poem, which I pass on simply because it is so beautifully made and, as it happens, so perfectly fits the season. It seems also, I suppose, almost hopeful...

The Trees

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.


  1. Thank you very much for the kind words, Nige. As you folks say over there: 'I'm gobsmacked!' (Can I say that in polite company?)

    And thank you for pointing out a common misconception about Larkin -- although, as you say, he did like to play with people on this score. ('Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordworth' and all that.) Clive James has written well on this point. In 'Wolves of Memory,' a review of High Windows, James writes: 'To the reader who has Larkin's poetry by heart, no poet seems more open. Small wonder that he finds it simply incomprehensible when critics discuss his lack of emotion. Apart from an outright yell for help, he has sent every distress signal a shy man can.'

    My apologies for going on so long. Again, thank you.

  2. That'a brilliant Clive James quote - so true - thanks, Stephen!