Philip Larkin was born in Coventry in 1922 and brought up there from 1927 to 1940, before leaving for Oxford University. He says it is where his childhood was ‘unspent.’ One day whilst travelling by train in January, 1954, the train pulled into Coventry; much to his surprise, all those early memories came flooding back. He penned this famous poem soon after. Amazing what trains and a single word can do…
I Remember, I Remember
Coming up England, by a different line
For once, early in the cold new year,
We stopped, and, watching men with number plates
Sprint down the platform to familiar gates
‘Why Coventry!’ I exclaimed, ‘I was born here.’
I leant full out, and squinnied for a sign
That this was still the town that had been ‘mine’…
Larkin died in 1985 and is to be immortalised with a memorial ledger stone in Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey; 2015 marking the 30th anniversary of his death.
Here’s the sign Coventryat the industrial grey station, with its low, grey cloud and its grey, gloomy atmosphere. The city is changing, growing and transforming itself with active investment. It is twinned with the German city Dresden; both cities were devastated during the Second World War.
Trains pass through southwards to London Euston, northwards to Birmingham.🚉