Philip Larkin (Video)



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  • I'm David Banush, Dean of
  • Libraries here at Tulane.
  • This poem
  • I'm going to read is by Philip Larkin
  • and it's called For Sidney Bechet.
  • That note you hold, narrowing
  • and rising, shakes
  • Like New Orleans reflected on the water,
  • And in all ears appropriate
  • falsehood wakes,
  • Building for some a legendary Quarter
  • Of balconies, flower baskets
  • and quadrilles,
  • Everyone making love and going shares.
  • Oh, play that thing!
  • Mute glorious Storyvilles
  • Others may license
  • grouping around their
  • chairs, Sporting-house
  • girls like circus tigers
  • priced Far above rubies
  • to pretend their fads
  • While scholars manqués
  • nod around unnoticed
  • Wrapped up in personnels like old plaids.
  • On me your voice falls as they say love
  • should, Like an enormous yes.
  • My Crescent City
  • Is where your speech alone is understood,
  • And greeted as the natural noise of good,
  • Scattering long-haired grief
  • and scored pity.
  • Philip Larkin was an English poet,
  • in addition to being a poet,
  • he was also a librarian,
  • and he was the head
  • librarian at the University of Hull
  • in East Yorkshire for many years.
  • This particular poem,
  • of course, references
  • New Orleans and more specifically,
  • Sidney Bechet,
  • who was a saxophonist
  • contemporary of Louis Armstrong
  • and one of the pioneers of early
  • jazz, particularly
  • the concept of soloing.
  • Larkin wrote, in addition to his poetry
  • and being a librarian,
  • he also wrote about jazz
  • and was the jazz record reviewer
  • for The Telegraph
  • Newspaper for many years.
  • So his writings are collected
  • in a collection called
  • All What Jazz, which we
  • have here in the library.