Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Philip Larkin and T. S. Eliot
I have never made it quite clear to myself why poets as different as Larkin and Eliot are my gods. I like to think of them as the two platforms between which my temperament swings, or the two poles across which my life is stretched, but that does not seem to me the final word. This morning, thinking about it again while I was walking to school from the train station, I thought about Larkin's laconic lyrics of human unfulfilment, what Auden, in another context, calls, "sing of human unsuccess/ In a rapture of distress." Then I thought of one more reason why Eliot matters so much to me. He writes long poems, and Larkin does not. I want to write a long poem. I love writing lyrics, but I want to write a long poem.