Wednesday, July 10, 2013

1955, & all that "O things going away!"

I just got back the group of some of my mother's slides that I sent to be scanned! This picture that I don't remember ever seeing was in it. My husband has just come to my parent's house near Schenectady where I stayed during his basic training. It is near Thanksgiving and I felt very shy about meeting the train in one of my new pregnancy smocks. At the train station, I didn't recognize him when he got off the train. They had cropped his beautiful hair, given him military eyeglasses (he went away wearing classy horn-rims) and he had lost a lot of weight. In mid-December, I joined him at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, where he did the rest of his Army service, and our daughter was born.

I just sent the next to last batch of my parent's slides to for scanning. I highly recommend their service! These slides (this is one of them, taken by my mother) are old, and often oddly exposed, since you had to set your exposure for each shot, and the slide film was pretty unforgiving. This was probably taken with a Contax or Contessa camera, both of which my folks got when my dad was on a business trip to Europe. I still have these cameras, and fiddle with them once in a while. I took the Contessa to college with me and it was my family camera for many years. I've had all those slides scanned, too, in the last two years.

Today (it's the middle of 2013!) we went on an excursion to a lavender farm. Fields of many different varieties of the scented stuff, some in full bloom, some of it not yet in bloom. Naturally there was a gift shop. And lavender goat's-milk soap for $7 a bar. You can choose the bar with little scratchy bits of lavendar flowers or the kind with no bits.

Tonight's poem was not published by Philip Larkin while he was alive. He left instructions that his diaries were to be destroyed and his assistants duly shredded them; it was a sizable job. He left instructions in his will to destroy his unpublished work unread; but he also gave his literary executors permission to publish what they wished. "The legal word for a will which contradicts itself in this way is "repugnant." Larkin's will was repugnant in this sense. It doesn't help anybody." (Isn't that wonderful??) This information and quote is taken from an article by noted British poet and critic James Fenton in the Summer, 2013 issue of the Threepenny Review, titled  "What Are We Going to Do About the New Philip Larkin," pages 7-10. This is a wonderful article, a review and consideration of Larkin occasioned  by the publication of Larkin's Complete Poems in 2012  by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. Fenton  makes a good case for reading Larkin's published volumes in reverse order. He also mentions his surprise at the many unpublished, untitled poems that follow one another in the Collected without a typographical clue as to where a new fragment begins. You can figure it out, but he suggests it was a bad mistake for the reader. Fenton calls this the "yard-sale effect." This review is chock-full of information about Larkin's entire output.


Clouds merge, the coast darkens,
Sunless barley stirs,
The sloping field alters
To weed-ribboned rock,
Waders and lichens,
The sea collapses, freshly.

A vacant park inland
Is roughened by wind,
Trees throng the light-oak chapel,
Storms-spots quickly round
A railed tomb of ssilors.
The house is shuttered.

Embedded in the horizon
A tiny, sunlit ship
Seems not ot be moving.

O things going away!

Philip Larkin, as reprinted in the Threepenny Review, Summer, 2012, page 10.

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