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This report is taken from PN Review 90, Volume 19 Number 4, March - April 1993.

Larkin's Half-Secret Stephen Logan
It's probably just as well, from my point of view, that Larkin's diaries got shredded. Once at a big College dinner, I hogged his attention for the better part of four hours. He bore it charmingly; but I wouldn't be surprised if he'd afterwards needed to reward himself with a hearty private moan. Larkin's manner throughout felt vaguely equivocal. His words, as I recall them now, seem to crave inverted commas, like an irony waiting to happen. Halfway through the meal, for example, he asked me about my prospects. I told him they were a bit worrying and with a Herculean effort of self-control spared him the details. Amazed at getting off so lightly, perhaps, he urged me to continue, brushing aside my faint protests with 'No, really, I'm very concerned about you'. He seemed when speaking to hold his vowels in his mouth, as if momentarily swilling them round his palate. This amplified his deep voice and almost swallowed up an elusive suggestion of wryness - but not quite.

Earlier, we'd been talking about Wordsworth, on whose poetry I was then writing a thesis. I said something to the effect that Wordsworth no longer seemed an object of heartfelt admiration. Accordingly, I added, I'd been very pleased to learn that when Larkin heard the Intimations Ode on the radio, he'd been moved to tears. Having offered him this smiling tribute, I was rather dashed when he acknowledged it by asking me to remind him how the poem went. ...


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