Tag: Larkin

Connie Bensley at 89

Sunday, 22 July, 2018

The English poet Connie Bensley was born in 1929, in south-west London, where she still lives. She worked first as a secretary and later as a medical copywriter and filled her rare spare moments between office and home with verse that evokes the fastidiousness of a career where words counted. In her descriptions, there are flashes of Betjeman’s wit and notes of Larkin’s sharpness when observing what Jean Hartley called “ordinary people doing ordinary things”.


My life is too dull and too careful–
even I can see that:
the orderly bedside table,
the spoilt cat.

Surely I should have been bolder.
What could biographers say?
She got up, ate toast and went shopping
day after day?

Whisky and gin are alarming,
Ecstasy makes you drop dead.
Toy boys make inroads on cash
and your half of the bed.

Emily Dickinson, help me.
Stevie, look up from your Aunt.
Some people can stand excitement,
some people can’t.

Connie Bensley

What will survive of us is love

Friday, 14 February, 2014 0 Comments

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd —
The little dogs under their feet.

An Arundel Tomb by Philip Larkin (1922 — 1985)

An Arundel Tomb

Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel (died 1376), and his wife, Eleanor of Lancaster (died 1372) are buried, with their dogs, in a carved tomb in Chichester Cathedral. He is fully dressed in armour but the mailed glove is off his right hand, and her right hand rests upon his. Joined in marriage during their lives, they are now joined forever in death. Omnia vincit amor wrote Virgil, but the skeptical Larkin is not so sure. Still, the hand-in-hand scene moved him to end his poem with one of the great lines of modern verse: What will survive of us is love.

Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.