Monday, 26 September 2022

Guess the Author

 It's time for a poem. Without prior knowledge (or recourse to Google), I doubt many people would guess the author of this one – 


The wind blew all my wedding-day,
And my wedding-night was the night of the high wind;
And a stable door was banging, again and again,
That he must go and shut it, leaving me
Stupid in candlelight, hearing rain,
Seeing my face in the twisted candlestick,
Yet seeing nothing. When he came back
He said the horses were restless, and I was sad
That any man or beast that night should lack
The happiness I had.

                                   Now in the day
All's ravelled under the sun by the wind's blowing.
He has gone to look at the floods, and I
Carry a chipped pail to the chicken-run,
Set it down, and stare. All is the wind
Hunting through clouds and forests, thrashing
My apron and the hanging cloths on the line.
Can it be borne, this bodying-forth by wind
Of joy my actions turn on, like a thread
Carrying beads? Shall I be let to sleep
Now this perpetual morning shares my bed?
Can even death dry up
These new delighted lakes, conclude
Our kneeling as cattle by all-generous waters?

Well, it is Philip Larkin, here clearly in thrall to 'Yeats of the baleful influence'* and writing in a lyrical neo-romantic vein. He signed off on 'Wedding-Wind' on this day in 1946, and it appeared first in the typescript In The Grip of Light, then in XX Poems (1951) and again in The Less Deceived (1955). Clearly Larkin was not ashamed of it – nor need he have been: it is beautiful in its way (a way very different from the mature Larkin), evocative and tender, with happiness and delight, infrequent visitors to Larkin's world, allowed an outing. At the time he wrote this, he would have been working on A Girl in Winter, which also sees the world wholly through a woman's eyes – something Larkin was very good at, but did less and less as his art became more masculine and bluff. 

* 'Who are the great poets of our time, and what are their names?
    Yeats of the baleful influence, Auden of the baleful influence, Eliot of the baleful influence...'
Kenneth Koch 'Fresh Air'


  1. Wouldn't have guessed, but now that I know, it does bring to mind "the wind is ruining their courting places"...

    1. Yes indeed, and there's a lot of weather in Larkin – especially in A Girl in Winter.