'Although Larkin had first read them [Auden and Isherwood] at KHS [his school], it wasn't until he reached Oxford that he began fully to appreciate their irony and ebullient detachment (he described Isherwood's first novel, "All the Conspirators", as being like "life photographed"). Eventually Larkin would praise Auden as "the first 'modern' poet, in that he could employ modern properties unselfconsciously". Reading him in St John's during his first term he felt:
"Auden rose like a sun. It is impossibly to convey the intensity of the delight felt by a ... mind reared on 'Drake's Drum', 'Westminster Bridge' and 'Ode to a Nightingale, when a poet is found speaking a language thrilling and beautiful, and describing things so near to everyday life that their once-removedness strikes like a strange cymbal. We entered the land, books in hand, like travellers with a guidebook... 'Poems', 'The Orators' and 'Look, Stranger!' seemed three fragments of revealed truth... To read 'The Journal of an Airman' was like being allowed half an hour's phone conversation with God".'