THE intensity of Philip Larkin’s poetic genius was matched only by his political bile. Immigrants were scum; prisoners were swine; trade-unions were filthy moneygrubbers. But this lack of charity, together with the author’s mistress-strewn life and scornful views on religion (“It’s absolute balls,” he said on reading the Bible. “Beautiful, of course. But balls.”), are now being overlooked by the Dean of Westminster. Larkin, it was announced last week, will soon have a flagstone at Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, near the tombs of fellow literary luminaries Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens and the memorial of Ted Hughes.
What the Dean also seems to have overlooked, however, is Larkin’s curmudgeonly view of his new neighbours. What would Larkin think of his posthumous companions? To go by the opinions expressed during his lifetime, not much.