Endless mornings on endless faces: Shakespeare and Philip Larkin

Holbrook, Peter (2011) Endless mornings on endless faces: Shakespeare and Philip Larkin. Shakespeare Survey, 64 328-339. doi:10.1017/CCOL9781107011229.029

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Author Holbrook, Peter
Title Endless mornings on endless faces: Shakespeare and Philip Larkin
Journal name Shakespeare Survey   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0080-9152
Publication date 2011
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1017/CCOL9781107011229.029
Open Access Status
Volume 64
Start page 328
End page 339
Total pages 12
Editor Peter Holland
Place of publication Cambridge, United Kingdom
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The critic in search of Larkin's ‘sources’ will have a tough time of it. It is hard to imagine Larkin himself enthusiastic about such a quest: he thought poetry should issue out of what he called ‘unsorted experience’ – ‘I tried to keep literature out of my poems’, he said. His literary personality was defined against that of modernist scholar-magpies like Eliot and Auden – poets he respected, but warily. In a review of 1960 he reproached Auden for intellectualism and arch literary game-playing – implicitly, the antithesis of his own poetry, which was to be understood as a record of personal experience.
Of course Larkin looked to other writers for inspiration: Christina Rossetti, Thomas Hardy, D. H. Lawrence, A. E. Housman. But the poetry is not thick with allusion. Larkin meant what he said: poetry should grow out of personal experience, not books. ‘Poems don't come from other poems’ he declared, ‘they come from being oneself, in life. Every man is an island, entire of himself, as Donne said.’ One of the reasons he liked Wilfred Owen was because, in that poet's words, he was ‘not concerned with Poetry’. The significance of at least two of Larkin's literary heroes, Hardy and Lawrence, was their licensing Larkin to speak in his own voice about those things that mattered to him. Hardy showed it was possible to write poetry without drawing on what Larkin called the ‘mythkitty’ that had weakened, by rendering artificial, the work of so many English poets. Lawrence taught a similar lesson: the importance of sincerity, of being yourself and not someone else.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Shakespeare Survey Volume 64: Shakespeare as Cultural Catalyst

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Publications
Official 2012 Collection
School of Communication and Arts Publications
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Created: Tue, 20 Mar 2012, 17:28:38 EST by Mr Simon Thomas on behalf of Faculty of Arts