The Trees is one of Larkin’s most famous and best-loved poems. In it, the poet equates the renewal of the seasons with death and pain: “Their greenness is a kind of grief”, he writes. But while it is regularly called one of the greatest poems about Spring, Larkin’s own feelings about The Trees were more ambivalent.
As his colleague James Booth explains in his article on England’s miserable genius, Larkin was aware that the emotional uplift of The Trees would make it popular. But he himself dismissed it as ”very corny”, and even "bloody awful tripe".
Watch this beautiful animation created by Lucy Izzard for BBC Culture and see what you think.
The Trees, by Philip Larkin
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
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.
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