But we who love Larkin's poetry find his mordancy cheering. (Of course, this may be due to the fact that we are ourselves mordant.) Unless he is writing about hospitals or nursing homes or ambulances, I usually finish any poem of his with a smile on my face. This is either because (1) the poem is lovely, or (2) it tells a marvelous truth about how we live. Actually, in most cases, both (1) and (2) are true of any poem written by Larkin.
Duncan Grant, "The Doorway" (1929)
Green-shadowed people sit, or walk in rings,
Their children finger the awakened grass,
Calmly a cloud stands, calmly a bird sings,
And, flashing like a dangled looking-glass,
Sun lights the balls that bounce, the dogs that bark,
The branch-arrested mist of leaf, and me,
Threading my pursed-up way across the park,
An indigestible sterility.
Spring, of all seasons most gratuitous,
Is fold of untaught flower, is race of water,
Is earth's most multiple, excited daughter;
And those she has least use for see her best,
Their paths grown craven and circuitous,
Their visions mountain-clear, their needs immodest.
Philip Larkin, The Less Deceived (The Marvell Press 1955).
Larkin wrote his sonnet in May of 1950: a happy-go-lucky (but "pursed-up") youth of 27. How can you not love someone who describes himself as "an indigestible sterility"? (A nice line of pentameter, that.)
Duncan Grant, "Garden Path in Spring" (1944)