Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This item is taken from PN Review 174, Volume 33 Number 4, March - April 2007.

Letters from Ian Shelton, John Lucas, Peter Faulkner
Whose Pooch?


In his article 'Larkin's Dog' (PNR 173), Mark Thompson quotes from a letter sent by Philip Larkin to William Empson's son Jacob: 'although I much admired and respected Empson's verse I frankly could make little of it and had to be content with a sort of dog-like devotion'. Surely this makes Larkin Empson's dog, not the other way round?



Mark Thompson's suggestion (PNR 173) that 'An Arundel Tomb' owes something to Empson's 'Aubade' is ingenious, but I doubt that it is right. 'I slept, and blank as that I would yet lie', Empson wrote, and Larkin, 'They would not think to lie so long.' But

puns on the word 'lie', especially when concerned with matters of the heart, aren't difficult to find in English poetry, from 'Therefore I lie with her and she with me' through to a line that got the late Philip Hobsbaum into trouble. And when Thompson seeks to clinch his case by arguing that the last line of 'Aubade' - 'The heart of standing is we cannot fly' - is echoed in the inclusive pronoun of Larkin's last line - 'What will survive of us is love' - the strong if not especially heartening reply must be that Larkin appears to have been wholly unaware of it. At all events, in his Oxford Book of Twentieth Century Verse he omitted the last four stanzas of 'Aubade'. (He appears to have thought that the poem ended at the bottom of the page which brought the sixth stanza to a close.) This hardly suggests that he was much taken by Empson's poem.


Tambi's Note


I have greatly enjoyed both James Keery's articles about the Apocalypse and New Romanticism, and Trevor Tolley's response to them. In relation to this period, I wonder whether any of your readers could elucidate the Note by Tambimuttu in the Winter 1944 issue of Selected Writing preceding the poetry section of that magazine (in which Alun Lewis's story 'Night Journey' also appeared). The Note runs:

In compiling these poems for this issue of SELECTED WRITING I have deliberately confined myself to some of the poets who are outside modern Youth Movements. My aim in doing so is to ensure that the work of these interesting poets is not entirely forgotten during this time of massed formation flights and merry myth-making.

The poets he includes are George Barker, Julian Symons, W.S. Graham, Richard Church, F.T. Prince, Jules Supervielle (translated by David Gascoigne), Ronald Bottrell, Ruthven Todd, Kathleen Raine, Francis King, Geoffrey Grigson, Anne Ridler and Lawrence Durrell.


This item is taken from PN Review 174, Volume 33 Number 4, March - April 2007.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to
Searching, please wait... animated waiting image