Monday, 17 November 2014
I'm enjoying this very much, especially with Alan Bennett's voice rumbling through it and admitting that he doesn't understand Auden. (If my mum were still here, this would have been her Christmas present.) There's Larkin and Betjeman, like old friends - MacNeice, learned by heart at school ...
Life in a day: he took his girl to the ballet;
Being short-sighted himself could hardly see it -
How I sympathise with that!
For me, the new discovery has been Thomas Hardy; I've read all the novels, but very little of his poetry.
Not a new discovery that I thoroughly dislike AE Housman ... what a posturing old fraud he was. Alan Bennett says that his poems don't appeal to women. Auden summed him up exactly:
Deliberately he chose the dry-as-dust,
Kept tears like dirty postcards in a drawer.
I think I'm with MacNeice:
I would have a poet able bodied, fond of talking, a reader of the newspapers, capable of pity and laughter, informed in economics, appreciative of women, involved in personal relationships, actively interested in politics, susceptible to personal impressions ... I write poems not because it is smart to be a poet but because I enjoy it as one enjoys swimming or swearing, and also because it is my road to freedom and knowledge.