Saturday, November 11, 2006

If I were called in to construct a religion...

Philip Larkin reads his poem Water.

The text is here.

Few poems showcase Larkin's technical mastery as this poem. He sounds facetious when the poem starts: whoever gets called to construct a religion? The second line seems even stranger, and you wonder if he has any idea what he is talking about. But when the poem ends, merely twelve lines later, and only thirty seconds in his reading, he has already moved from his inane premise to build the sense of a religious experience.

Like many agnostics, Larkin had a clearer conception of what religion tries to answer, than the very religious.

There is one poem where he does it even better, his celebrated High Windows . Who else could write a poem that starts with the f-word, and ends in a church, and so convincingly?

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