Sunday 3 December 2023

Writing an Ideal Poem

Feel irritable these nights: I have an urge to do a poem, but can’t get it going. I suppose basically it isn’t a real poem. Often one spends weeks trying to write a poem out of the conscious mind that never comes to anything – these are sort of ‘ideal’ poems that one feels ought to be written, but I don’t because (I fancy) they lack the vital spark of self-interest. A ‘real’ poem is a pleasure to write. I have been trying this poem on and off for some time.

Philip Larkin, Letters to Monica, ed. by Anthony Thwaite (London: faber & faber, 2010), p. 269 [15 August 1960].