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A review of Philip Larkin's new poetry: from the archive, 6 June 1974


High Windows contains some of the poet's most famous works

High Windows, by Philip Larkin (Faber, £1.40).

Disinvolvement, decrepitude and death - these are the main themes of Philip Larkin's new volume of poems. The chill aspect of the book throws, moreover, a wintry light on "The Whitsun Weddings," his last book, published ten years ago: the poems there on subjects like faith-healing and ambulances glint out far more sharply than they did. Two impressive poems in the new book speak plainly of a feeling of exclusion from sexual happiness: the witty

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(Which was rather late for me);

Higher than the handsomest hotel,

An air of baffled absence,
trying to be there
Yet being here.

Everything crowds under the horizon.

Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death
It dies in the white hours
Of young-leafed June...

Gold as on a coin, or walking
Somehow from the sun towards them,
One showing the eggs unbroken.

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