Philip Larkin: Voices and Values

  • J. R. Watson

Abstract

Philip Larkin had a good voice. By that I mean that it was effective in conveying his meaning, agreeable to listen to, and capable of registering different shades of feeling with some sensitivity. Although he suffered from a stammer at one period of his life, he controlled his voice so well during his mature years that its hesitations became almost undetectable; and his reading and speaking voice had an instantly pleasing, even winning quality about it. It was also, as some voices are, instantly recognisable: it was Philip’s voice, and no one else’s, and as we lament his death we may well realise the sensitivity of Tennyson’s

But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,

And the sound of a voice that is still!

Keywords

Beach Hull Nylon Defend Lost 

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Notes

  1. 3.
    Bill Ruddick, ‘“Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique”: Philip Larkin’s Response to the Poetry of John Betjeman’, Critical Quarterly, vol. xxviii (Winter 1986) pp. 63–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 5.
    Philip Larkin, Le Nozze di Pentecoste, trs. Renato Oliva and Camillo Pennati (Torino, 1969) p. 115.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Charles Salter, ‘Unusual Words Beginning with “un”, “en”, “out”, “up” and “on”, in Thomas Hardy’s Verse’, Victorian Poetry, vol. xi (Winter 1973) pp. 257–61.Google Scholar
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    Seamus Heaney, ‘Englands of the Mind’, in Preoccupations: Selected Prose, 1968–1978 (London: Faber and Faber, 1980), esp. p. 150.Google Scholar
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    Roland Barthes, Writing Degree Zero, trs. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1968) pp. 10–11.Google Scholar
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    Francis Berry, Poetry and the Physical Voice (London: Faber and Faber, 1962) pp. 102–3.Google Scholar
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    See Franklin R. Rogers, Painting and Poetry, Form, Metaphor and the Language of Literature (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1985) for a discussion of metaphor and the visual perception.Google Scholar
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    R. P. Draper, Lyric Tragedy (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985) p. 214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Barbara Everett, Poets in their Time: Essays on English Poetry from Donne to Larkin (London: Faber and Faber, 1986) p. 245. There are two fine essays on Larkin in this book; this quotation is taken from the second of them, ‘Larkin’s Edens’.Google Scholar
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    J. R. Watson, ‘The Other Larkin’, Critical Quarterly, vol. xvii (Winter 1975) pp. 347–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Dale Salwak 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. R. Watson

There are no affiliations available

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