KR BlogReading

Talking in Bed in Pictures

There are songs and poems that show up in my head without warning. I don’t know why it is that Arlo Guthrie’s “Motorcycle Song” is so very appealing to my unconscious. There are times when it is going so strong I cannot concentrate on reading. And I do not much love Philip Larkin, but his “Talking in Bed,” sails on into my brain every couple weeks. It crowds out most other thoughts. Dark towns! Heap up! So I thought I’d crowd back, make the poem do something else. Why let it always push me around? Below, please find what Google has to say about Larkin’s tercets.


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.

The Kenyon Review was founded in 1939. The resources for the new literary journal were provided by Gordon Keith Chalmers, President of Kenyon College, while the inspiration to establish the journal and raise the national stature of the institution had come from his wife Roberta Teale Swartz, herself a poet and a friend and protege of Robert Frost. Frost encouraged the idea and visited Kenyon more than once. The poet and critic John Crowe Ransom was recruited to Kenyon by Chalmers with the express purpose in mind of his launching a distinguished magazine. During his 21-year tenure, Ransom published such internationally known writers as Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, William Empson, Mark Van Doren, Kenneth Burke, and Delmore Schwartz, as well as younger writers: Flannery O'Connor, Robert Lowell, and Peter Taylor, to name a few. It was perhaps the best known and most influential literary magazine in the English-speaking world during the 1940s and '50s. In 1969, discouraged by the quarterly's financial burdens and sagging reputation, Kenyon College ceased publication of The Kenyon Review. The journal was revived in 1979, and in June 1990, internationally acclaimed poet and editor Marilyn Hacker was hired as the Review's first full-time (and first female) editor. She quickly broadened the quarterly's scope to include more minority and marginalized viewpoints. In April 1994, the trustees directed that The Kenyon Review be continued, but with significant cost-reducing and revenue-enhancing initiatives. Hacker left and David Lynn (acting editor in 1989-90), Kenyon English professor, was named editor on a two-thirds time basis. The magazine's financial picture has since stabilized and improved dramatically. The creation of a Kenyon Review Board of Trustees and a renewed commitment by Kenyon College combined to guarantee the financial health of the Review and to free its editors to pursue increased excellence. Such is the status of The Kenyon Review today.