A case of red herrings: Englishness in the poetry of Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes

Rowland, AC 2004, 'A case of red herrings: Englishness in the poetry of Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes' , in: The revision of Englishness , Manchester University Press, Manchester, UK, pp. 81-94.

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Alvarez’s introduction to The New Poetry – written in 1960 - has often been read as polarising the work of Larkin and Hughes. Such a critical stance cannot account for the connections between the writers in terms of their occasional engagement with each other’s work, and the unpublished correspondence held at Emory University. Hughes’s most famous Laureate poem, ‘Rain-charm for the Duchy’, can be read as a partial re-writing of Larkin poems ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ and ‘Water’ (read from h’out). The rain that ends ‘The Whitsun Weddings’, and the ‘sousing’ in ‘Water’, reappear as the tumultuous downpour to celebrate the christening of Prince Harry. Specific phrases from ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ reappear in ‘Rain-charm for the Duchy’, such as the ‘bunting-dressed,/Coach-party annexes’ which become the ‘tourist bunting’ in Hughes’s poem. Other connections are evident: swelling at the end of ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ indicates the possibility of future procreation for the wedding couples (h’out); this becomes the ‘tors’ in Hughes’s poem. ‘Tors’, a hill or rocky peak (you’ll be familiar with this term if you’ve ever been to Devon), originates from the Latin ‘torus’, a ‘swelling’, ‘bulge’ or ‘cushion’. This is connected with the ‘girl in high heels’ in ‘Rain-charm for the Duchy’, who is ‘cuffed’ by surf in an image of insemination, adding sexual piquancy to Larkin’s image in ‘Water’ of a ‘fording’ congregation.

Item Type: Book Section
Editors: Rogers, D and McLeod, J
Additional Information: Chapter 6 within book.
Themes: Subjects / Themes > P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Memory, Text and Place
Schools: Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences > Centre for English Literature and Language
Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
Publisher: Manchester University Press
Refereed: Yes
ISBN: 9780719069727
Related URLs:
Depositing User: H Kenna
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2009 16:39
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 08:04
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/1303

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