“And as the tightening brakes took hold, there swelled
A sense of falling, like an arrow-shower
Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming rain.”
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Last broadcast today, 21:30 on BBC Radio 3.
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Poets Paul Farley and Kate Royal travel across Britain, tracing the origins of some of Philip Larkin’s best-known train-inspired poems, including the celebrated Whitsun Weddings – of which they are both particular admirers.
They also look at other poems such as Dockery and Son, Friday Night at the Royal Station Hotel and Here, and take journeys from Oxford to Sheffield and Hull to London. They lead them to a series of interchanges on class, gender, paternity and Englishness, as well as a discussion about the poet’s influence on them and on other contemporary writers.
Along the way, they meet fellow Larkin enthusiasts, including the Hull woman married in the 1950s who remembers the ‘bridal express’ days evoked in The Whitsun Weddings – as they build up a picture of how much of Larkin’s England has gone, what remains and talk about what the poems say
With new readings of the poems in addition to archive recordings.
Sun 24 May 200921:30