While admitting that [Philip] Larkin's poetry "refuses alibis" about the "conditions of contemporary life," [Seamus] Heaney writes that
there survives in him a repining for a more crystalline reality to which he might give allegiance. When that repining finds expression something opens and moments occur which deserve to be call visionary. Because he is suspicious of any easy consolation, he is sparing of such moments, yet when they come they stream into the discursive and exacting world of his poetry with such trustworthy force that they call for attention.
Later he adds that Larkin's skepticism is often modified by a mood he calls elysian, and he cites poems like "At Grass," "MCLMXIV," "How Distant" and "The Explosion" as examples of this mood. All these poems, says Heaney, "are visions of 'the old Platonic England,' the light in them honeyed by attachment to a dream world that will not be denied because it is at the foundation of the poet's sensibility". Finally, Heaney says "in the poems [Larkin] has written there is enough reach and longing to show that he does not completely settle for that well-known bargain offer, 'a poetry of lowered sights and patently diminished expectations'".

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