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Nomination: Coming [25 February 1950. From XX Poems and The Less Deceived]

Larkin is not in any sense a nature poet yet many of his poems such as ‘The Trees’ and ‘First Sight’ celebrate the change of the seasons and, in particular, his excitement at the approach of Spring. ‘Coming’ (1950) is one of these. The contrast here is between the solid brick houses hedged in by laurel bushes and the delicacy of the birdsong and changed light that herald the Spring. I like the way past, present and future are contained in this lyric: the laurel is the modern emblem of the suburban garden yet in Greek mythology it communicated the spirit of prophesy and poetry.

The extended simile that closes the poem gives us an image of security and hope that we can all relate to, taking us back to childhood when the moods of our parents were our seasons and all our mysteries and uncertainties could be resolved by their changes.

Jean Hartley

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