05 February 2015

7 Ladycroft, Wellington, Surrey
Sunday 10 March 1946

Philip Larkin to J.B. Sutton:

     " ... I have been feeling cheerful today on account of the weather. Really it has been a delightful early spring day. The sun has been shining in the cold sky since dawn and even now at 20 to 6 I can see the last flush of it on the red brick house opposite. There has never been a single cloud in the sky, north, south, east, or west. I walked in the morning and in the afternoon too, first round the wooded foot of some local hills, along paths that were very muddy because the sun was bringing out the frost, and then round the villages this afternoon, looking at the graveyards and the different houses all quiet on Sunday afternoon. You can remember, I expect, days like this when every thing far or near at hand seems specially graced by the light. Sheep, railway engines, yards, lanes, distant hills, iron gates, drinking pumps.

     "I was not in a mood when I wanted to make anything out of it: I was quite happy to let it alone. After weeks and months of small, feeble, intermittent harmonies from my own character, this sudden enormous flood was as wonderful as hearing Earl Hines after a YMCA piano-basher. It makes me glad to be alive and sets my head humming with all sorts of schemes, that will live as long as gnats. Certainly the privilege of being able to walk about on a day like this makes nonsense temporarily of all one's hopes and fears. All that matters is that we've only got fifty years, at the outside, to look around. So let us be as eager and meticulous as a Boston Vice Squad on a mixed bathing-beach, and if we should produce art, so much the better, but the only quality that makes art durable & famous is the quality of generating delight in the state of living. It is the peculiar function of art to do this. A book concerning the most vital social and political problems may be quite dead except for a description of a man eating a steak pudding ... "

                                                               -- from "Selected Letters of Philip Larkin   
                                                               1940-1985." ed. Anthony Thwaite.

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