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Larkin by CK Stead


Famously curmudgeon
he couldn’t abide his
mother nor admire his
colleagues; said his work was

a toad that squatted on
his soul; said that Kingsley
Amis stole his best jokes
and became unfairly

famous; didn’t want kids
(noisy devils) nor a
wife, though a girl in his
bed, Monica or Maeve

was nice if she could be
good and not want to stay
or cry too much going.
Holidays were the way –

the discreet hotel, and
Sark was ‘just like abroad
without dysentery’. What
he loved best was Handel,

Elgar too, the English
composers – and jazz; these
and the white of early
summer – may in flower,

hawthorn, chestnut, even
nettle; or October
under a pale sky, blue
daisies in a country

churchyard, and the bees still
busy. How happy he
could be, how foolishly
happy – and yes, how sad!