Ted Hughes V Philip Larkin
The inmost spirit of poetry, in other words, is at bottom, in every recorded case, the voice of pain – and the physical body, so to speak, of poetry, is the treatment by which the poet tries to reconcile that pain with the world.
Poetry is nobody’s business except the poet’s, and everybody else can fuck off.
Twenty years ago this month, Ted Hughes died. There’s been various articles and transmissions of late “commemorating” that fact, with Radio 3 providing some of the most interesting, including Sean O’Brien’s imagined stand-off between ‘Uncle Ted’ and Philip Larkin, whom Iain Sinclair referred to as ‘The Spider’. Larkin, bitter alcoholism and dubious politics aside, did rattle of a few good lines in his time, but as a fellow Yorkshireman I’m congenitally biased towards Ted, both his work and his general worldview. See my portrait of Ted Hughes here.