I've been reading bits of Larkin lately. A couple of years ago I left my thick, cumbersome Collected on the shelf in Paris and brought the thin individual books back to California, and it's a pleasure to take down The Whitsun Weddings with its old foxed, crumbly paper. The price tag, red, is in pounds, but I forget where and when I bought it. But I like the size of it, especially compared with increasingly thick books of contemporary poetry (including a couple doorstops I'm reviewing at the moment) with far too many poems.

But what I wanted to say is that I used to find Larkin condescending, and now I think that less. I see where the personal enters poems that once seemed to me to be looking critically at others: "Faith Healing," for instance, which I've just reread. It's a poem about gullibility, and desire, perhaps based on a tv broadcast, and Larkin, when I look close, is himself there is the sheepish crowd of desirers. I might not have seen that before.

          . . .  An immense slackening ache,

As when, thawing, the rigid landscape weeps,

Spreads slowly through them--that, and the voice above

Saying Dear child, and all time has disproved.