Philip Larkin

On the few occasions Larkin explained why he wrote poetry, he did so in the most humdrum, almost DIYish, terms. Speaking on the BBC Overseas Service in 1958, he put it as simply as this: “If I must account for it, I think it would be best described as the only possible reaction to a particular kind of experience, a feeling that you are the only one to have noticed something, something especially beautiful or sad or significant. Then there follows a sense of responsibility, responsibility for preserving this remarkable thing by means of a verbal device that will set off the same experience in other people, so that they too will feel How beautiful, how significant, how sad, and the experience will be preserved.”

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
  They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
  And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
  By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
  And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
  It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
  And don't have any kids yourself.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Philip Larkin

  1. I’ve always enjoyed this one of Larkin’s:

    The Mower

    The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
    A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
    Killed. It had been in the long grass.

    I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
    Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
    Unmendably. Burial was no help:

    Next morning I got up and it did not.
    The first day after a death, the new absence
    Is always the same; we should be careful

    Of each other, we should be kind
    While there is still time.

    I’ve always found the line ‘Burial was no help’ strangely hilarious for some reason. Its thudding abruptness is quite startling.

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