Larkin on the Great War

I’m reading, with immense enjoyment, Larkin’s Letters to Monica.

Here he is, one Sunday in November, 1954:

After reading the papers this morning I put on my huge radio & couldn’t understand why there was nothing on the home service except the noise of a large silent audience. Then I looked at the clock… I’d been unwittingly transported to the Cenotaph. Hastily I tried to collect my thoughts, looked at my poppy, thought of Sassoon at the hydro in Scotland and They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old, then a thump of gunfire released me from my effort. Though poppies fade In Flanders fields – who wrote that? 1914-1918: that drab patch on our century, grey-green, green-brown, the colour of churned mud, how really it is trembling with emotion if you look closely! A silly sentence, but you know what I mean. 1939-45 will never stir me as much: I don’t think the reason’s entirely in me, either.

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