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The Whitsun Weddings

August 2001

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

This is one of the three or four really spacious, almost symphonic Larkin poems, alongside ‘Church Going’, ‘The Building’, and ‘Aubade’. One of the reasons why I have a special affection for it is that I was responsible for giving it its first public airing. I was at the time a BBC radio producer, in March 1959, and I had written to Larkin (whom I first met in July 1958) asking whether he had a new unpublished poem I could use in a Third Programme ‘New Poetry’ broadcast. Larkin sent ‘The Whitsun Weddings’, and on 17 March 1959 followed it with a letter (see Selected Letters) suggesting how he would like it read. The ‘New Poetry’ containing the poem was first broadcast on 5 April. It then appeared in the June 1959 issue of Encounter.

Anthony Thwaite

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