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Things Worth Remembering: The Art of Nostalgia

Philip Larkin’s poem about retired racehorses captures past glory without giving in to sentiment.

Welcome back to Douglas Murray’s Sunday column, Things Worth Remembering, where he presents passages from great poets he has committed to memory—and explains why you should, too. To listen to Douglas read “At Grass” by Philip Larkin, click below:

All of us have the tendency to look back, to remember wistfully, to pine for an imagined (often mythological) yesterday—especially in the midst of so much turmoil and uncertainty. So much falling apart.

Of course, the danger of looking back is the nostalgia trap. Sounding mawkish, silly, cartoonish. We have the most selective of memories.

Looking back on one’s childhood or early adulthood and avoiding the nostalgia trap—that’s much harder.

Looking back on the past and deriving some special meaning from it and then turning that meaning into a work of art—well, that’s why we have Philip Larkin.

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