Tuesday, April 03, 2007

When the hits keep on comin' ...

... read some Larkin.

A co-worker reminded me of him today. He—Philip Larkin, by the way, is who we're talking about, the late English poet—was an odd bird. A galumphing, bald, bespectacled, sexually frustrated bird—and also, it just so happens, maybe the funniest, most sad, and most poignant poet of—the century? The whatever? Who knows. I have no authority to say anything beyond the fact that I never ever get tired of him. (Another I don't never get tired of? Miller Williams, Lucinda's dad.)

Most of the time, reading Larkin, it's a light, or feels like a light, affair; he rhymes a lot; he makes jokes; he curses ("They fuck you up, your mum and dad /// They don't mean to, but they do"); he seems to have a wry smile, very English, on his face all the while. But as my co-worker and friend this afternoon reminded me, Larkin also often swerves sharply, becoming strangely sad and deep.

My co-worker reminded me of this facet of Larkin by sending me the following, in response to my bitching about not having enough money to afford, well, life.
Money

Quarterly, is it, money reproaches me:
'Why do you let me lie here wastefully?
I am all you never had of goods and sex,
You could get them still by writing a few cheques.'

So I look at others, what they do with theirs:
They certainly don't keep it upstairs.
By now they've a second house and car and wife:
Clearly money has something to do with life

—In fact, they've a lot in common, if you enquire:
You can't put off being young until you retire,
And however you bank your screw, the money you save
Won't in the end buy you more than a shave.

I listen to money singing. It's like looking down
From long French windows at a provincial town,
The slums, the canal, the churches ornate and mad
In the evening sun. It is intensely sad.
Always with the windows, with Larkin. What a strange obsession. I wrote something about windows, once, in response or inspiration. Here it is (and keep in mind this dates from '98, so read on forgivingly):
Distances

I like distances
And far off places.
I like high windows
That frame miles
Of steaming interstates
And strip malled green valleys.
I like how sometimes
From rooftops
After rain
The suburbs
Look like Aztec jungle.
This was written in the Honors Lounge of Old Main, on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where I went to school (and which some of you reading no doubt know).

Hopefully I've gotten better, writing-wise.

2 comments:

Jake-Freedom said...

dude, don't down-play yourself man. You may be the best writer any of us ever read.

Jeff said...

Hey Hunter,
This is Jeff, your fellow Kingsland Territories colonist. I couldn't find your email on here, and I've got a question for you. Would you send me your info? ciprionj(at)gmail.com

Thanks!

Hope you're well, and that your laundry is fresh and nicely folded.

Jeff