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The Nature of Poetry

21st May 2021

RJ has been asked to give a talk on TS Eliot and Philip Larkin and their relationship with London at the end of June....

Poetry is often overlooked
when people ask what's English literature
and yet all writing once was carved in lines 
of rhythmic metre. Homer would have scoffed
at raising prose above the sculpted form
(the ancient Greek not Simpson obviously).

The value of poetic shape is this:
concision, brevity and wit when words
from other spheres - computers, apps, all 
electronic media - spew out
with sickening profusion on our eyes
and ears, and data overload becomes 
the new anxiety of modern life. 

This zoom-tour follows through the capital
two poets of the twentieth century.
The first is TS Eliot who paints in words
a pub interior, a City church, 
an upstairs flat and scene of 
an unsatisfactory liaison
in The Waste Land (1922).
The other poet's Philip Larkin, who, 
one Pentecost, came down to London on
a steam train from his home in Hull where he
was the librarian. The Whitsun Weddings 
was inspired. At the end he writes,
'I thought of London spread out in the sun
its postal districts packed like squares of wheat',
which is an image Blue Badge Guides relate to -
boroughs compartmentalised, defined,
their road map memorised and coloured in. 

You might decide to read them in advance
or not - no pressure: if you get the chance.