But Amis tells me that was not Larkin’s only poetic affirmation.
“What about the end of ‘The Trees’?” he asks me and then quotes from it.
“Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.”
This was the third Amis in full bloom. Listen to leaves thresh freshly, like those on his tree-lined brownstone street, where Amis is starting afresh in America.
But the other two Amises, the darker ones, would not let that rest. “Under the manuscript of that poem,” Amis added, “Larkin wrote, ‘Bloody awful, sentimental crap.’”
Ron Rosenbaum's latest book is How the End Begins: The Road to a Nuclear World War III.