On more than one occasion, Philip Larkin suggested that his discovery of the poetry of Thomas Hardy was one of the things that enabled him to come into his own as a poet. It was the subject matter of Hardy's poetry -- its humanity and its emotional content -- that had an impact upon Larkin.
When asked by an interviewer what he had learned from Hardy, Larkin replied that Hardy had taught him "not to be afraid of the obvious." He continued:
"All those wonderful dicta about poetry: 'the poet should touch our hearts by showing his own', 'the poet takes note of nothing that he cannot feel', 'the emotion of all the ages and the thought of his own' -- Hardy knew what it was all about."
Philip Larkin, "An Interview with Paris Review," Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982 (Faber and Faber 1983), page 67.
The following poem by Larkin goes well with Hardy's "A Two-Years' Idyll" (which appeared in my previous post). Perhaps it can be thought of as a sort of coda to the "idyll" described by Hardy: the aftermath when "romance straight forsook/Quickly somehow/Life when we sped from our nook."
Talking in Bed
Talking in bed ought to be easiest,
Lying together there goes back so far,
An emblem of two people being honest.
Yet more and more time passes silently.
Outside, the wind's incomplete unrest
Builds and disperses clouds about the sky,
And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation
It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.
Philip Larkin, The Whitsun Weddings (Faber and Faber 1964).
The final two lines of the poem are, of course, classic Larkin. How you react to the lines is, I think, a rough litmus test of whether Larkin is your cup of tea. If you slap yourself on the forehead and/or shake your head in delight and wonder and/or smile to yourself, you will likely enjoy Larkin's company. I first read "Talking in Bed" about three decades ago, and I still do one or more of these three things each time I read it.
"Riviera Window, Cros-de-Cagnes" (1926)