NEW: Philip Larkin, “This Be the Verse”

We’ve had this one on the site for a while, but didn’t get around to fully annotating it till now: Philip Larkin, “This Be the Verse.

They fuck you up, your mum and dad,

They may not mean to, but they do…

Philip Larkin was a great poet, a decent novelist, a university librarian, and a notoriously cranky bastard. The misanthropic cynicism of his poems isn’t a front; his letters and diary entries (and to some extent his solitary, childless life) make clear that he meant it. Still, he had an ear most writers would kill for and a sharper moral imagination than almost any poet writing in the second half of the twentieth century. His no-frills, no-bullshit style attempted to squeeze every last drop of sentimentality out of poetry. (Except when it didn’t.)

More on Larkin at Poetry Foundation.
More on Larkin at

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