A Love Letter from Larkin
Dearest, while waiting for my cheese to melt
I think of you and listen to Bechet.
We seem to be less close. It’s all my fault.
The crocuses, your nice blue frock… I felt,
as you write, dear, we had a lovely day.
Recalling you, your marvellous legs, I melt.
I wonder is it true that ‘if the salt…?’
England fought back well by the close of play–
were you listening? That run-out! Compton’s fault.
Those swine have turned their wireless up. I’d bolt,
but where to? Maeve’s at the library,
I can’t go there. This blasted cheese won’t melt.
I’m just a clumsy oaf, a cowardly dolt
who would be helpless if you went away,
yet seem to feel less close. It’s all my fault.
Yes, I did like your red suspender belt.
I’m sorry you’re so down. What can I say?
How can I make things easier? Ah, the melt!
Do you feel we’re less close? It’s all my fault.
She surprised me
over her fragile meal, picked over,
when she said, ‘Don’t tell me if Murray won or lost
I want to watch it.’
She’s never been interested
in any sport, apart from ice skating.
But she explained
she could watch tennis on her laptop in bed,
and it didn’t matter if she drowsed
in and out,
because it just went back and forth
seemingly by chance
with one stroke
Although he is now renowned as a novelist, biographer and translator as well as a poet, D. M. Thomas wrote and published little else but poetry until he was forty, and has said that poetry has always been his ‘first love’. He has produced an impressive fifteen poetry collections, beginning with Two Voices in 1968, with his most recent being Mrs English and Other Women (2014). In addition he has published thirteen novels, of which the third, the highly acclaimed, Booker-shortlisted The White Hotel (1981), has been translated into over 30 languages. Thomas’s own translations of Russian poets including Pushkin and Akhmatova are themselves highly regarded, and his biography of Alexander Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Orwell Prize for political writing in 1999. He has also written a stage play, Hell Fire Corner (2004).