Friday 24 June 2022

Dove for Larkin

 I see one of our exam boards is dropping poems by Larkin, Owen, Hardy, Keats, Heaney and Hopkins from its Eng Lit GCSE syllabus in order to 'refresh' it with new works by writers of – you guessed! – 'diverse ethnic backgrounds'. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, a man with a pretty diverse ethnic background, has rightly condemned this as 'cultural vandalism'. Among the casualties is Larkin's 'An Arundel Tomb', which has been replaced with 'Flirtation' by Rita Dove. Comments David James, a deputy head writing online for the Centre for Policy Studies: 'There may be many reasons for replacing Larkin’s 'An Arundel Tomb' with 'Flirtation' by Rita Dove, but nobody except the most swivel-eyed social justice warrior could say the latter is the better poem. The losers in this campaign to extend the culture wars into every corner of every classroom are the children denied the opportunity of studying a work of genius.' For the record, here is the poem that has replaced 'An Arundel Tomb' . I think it, er, speaks for itself –  Flirtation

After all, there’s no need
to say anything

at first. An orange, peeled
and quartered, flares

like a tulip on a wedgwood plate
Anything can happen.

Outside the sun
has rolled up her rugs

and night strewn salt
across the sky. My heart

is humming a tune
I haven’t heard in years!

Quiet’s cool flesh—
let’s sniff and eat it.

There are ways
to make of the moment

a topiary
so the pleasure’s in

walking through.

1 comment:

  1. Well, in my opinion they didn't trade up, but it could have been worse. I know what the poem is about, at least. It all but pleads for rhyming. It's like a comedy where you can see the joke coming, but they didn't want to be obvious, so they replace the joke you expected with-- nothing.