I will always reply to comments and always re-reply to re-replies.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


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.

Philip Larkin
was often perceived as being a bit of a miserable old curmudgeon. But this poem gives the lie to that, I think. It breathes Spring, regeneration and hope. I particularly like that last line (read it aloud, lingering on that last "sh" in each "afresh" ). It came to mind the other day when my grand-daughter and I were cycling through some local woods. Looking it up for this blog (I just had to write it out, rather than just giving a link address) has made me sit down to enjoy his complete works once again. They have been gathering dust on the bookshelf for some time.


Nea said...

Oh, I think putting the words down is so much better than a link, and coupled with the picture.....perfect. He does not sound like a curmudgeon, not in the least, but alas, when we grow old and our aches and pains are with us, I suppose to the very young we seem a bit gruff, short tempered, even mean. But we, as with the trees, have our moments of GREEN.

Nea said...

by the way Avus, just because I was feeling so very venturesome, I also ordered HP Brown sause along with my Marmite. I got a very nice letter from the man who puts up the items on Ebay, letting me know if their are other items that I have been looking for, he might have them, even though they aren't listed for sale on Ebay. I wrote him back and explained that I am not an ex-pat, just someone who is following the lead of a friend, and unless my friend sends me some more information regarding things I could like, I wouldn't know what to request. He had mushe peas for sale, tetley tea, which we can actually get here, and I have bought many times, and quite a few other items. I don't think I would like mush peas, but who knows.......only because I don't buy canned peas of any kind, I buy frozen. but I am curious what they taste like, and I would try them, if I had the chance. I watch a lot of BBC Mystery productions, and I often would like to try the food that is being eaten. What is a bacon Sarnie? Is that a word for Sandwich? haha Just a very curious person in many ways....I am...

Avus said...

Nea - try mushy peas if you like - I hate them. they are what they say - peas crushed up into a kind of paste. Bacon Sarnie - yes, that is slang for a sandwich. Two thick slices of bread - spread thickly with butter - insert bacon , fried to taste, with rinds cut off, flavour with HP sauce. (Wear a bib when eating 'cos the butter will melt and run everywhere - delicious!
(Tell me the names of anything else you want to try and I will try to explain them to you)

herhimnbryn said...

a. Thankyou for this. I am now going to hunt for some Larkin. I only really know the 'Parents' poem ( for it's famous line!). I do not have any of his poetry on my shelf and now I want some!
Great image! Is that the Claude?

Nea.........when you try the Marmite.........spread it very, very , very thinly! A friend tried it once and put it on her toast like choc. spread, it was foul, she never tried it again!( despite me explaining!). Right... am now off to have some Marmite on toast!

Tall Girl said...

Lovely. A timely reminder for me too to track down some Larkin, whom I have read a bit, but not recently. The one-man play Tom Courtenay did a few years ago -'Pretending to be Me', in which he pretended to be Larkin, was one of the most moving and memorable experience I've had in the theatre.

Avus said...

HHnB: Go for it! I am really enjoying getting under his skin again. Yes - the Claude Butler "hybrid" (ridden by Jo with the seat down) and my Dawes Horizon tourer, nestling up together.
tg: Glad to have reminded you of him. I did not see the Tom Courtenay production but have always wished I had.

Knowleypowley said...


Wonderful poem, thanks for sharing


Lucy said...

'An Arundel tomb' also gives the lie to the miserable bugger perception. I think perhaps we also came to hear too much about him as a person which rather discoloured his work, as it can.

Avus said...

I thoroughly agree about the "Arundel Tomb" - poignant and perceptive. I also agree that, whilst biographies are fascinating, their subject's works should be judged apart - as works.
I like Kipling's take on this:
"If I have given you delight
By aught that I have done,
Let me lie quiet in that night
Which shall be yours anon:

And for the little, little span
The dead are borne in mind,
Seek not to question other than
The books I leave behind."

chiefbiscuit said...

And I'm glad you did - personality of the poet aside, the poetry is fantastic.

Patry Francis said...

He gets better every time I read him. I love the first two lines best.