Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wooden Clock: The sound of an Axe made of Iron

Bohemian Poem XXVI from Philip Larkin’s first collection, The North Ship (1945) makes you wonder how wise he was at the age of 22. Some of us were crossing the iron curtain at that age in 1980 AD: 

“This is the first thing
 I have understood:
 Time is the echo of an axe
 Within a wood.” 
The middle-aged and older hear the strokes of time’s axe in the forest, seldom the young, for whom the sound of laughter and song are more compelling. In his notes to The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin, editor Archie Burnett suggests Larkin may have been echoing lines from Auden’s first poetic drama, Paid on BothSides (1928): “death seems / An axe’s echo"

Pritchett  knew all about the echo in his short stories:

“I do not write for the reader, for people, for society. I write for myself, for my own self-regarding pleasure, trying to excel and always failing of the excellence I desire. If no one ever read me, would I write? Perhaps not; but I would not be able to stop writing in my head.