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The Whitsun Weddings

August 2012

Nomination: The Whitsun Weddings [18 October 1958. From The Whitsun Weddings]

There are so many Larkin poems I could nominate but ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ is very special to me.

It depicts a train journey (a travelling coincidence) between Hull and Kings Cross that I’ve made many times. I never fail to think of the poem as the train passes the place “where sky and Licolnshire and water meet.” Or to get a sense of what a train journey was like on a hot day in the late 1950s when I read the lines “All windows down, all cushions hot, all sense of being in a hurry gone.

It’s a beautiful poem about relationships and destiny, it epitomises Larkin’s peculiarily English genius.

Alan Johnson

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