Philip Larkin

March 13, 2007


Attended Oxford University, depticts his miseries as a student in the novel Jill
Worked as a librarian
Published only a few small books of verse
Repelled critics looking for radical novelty in technique
Pins out of his disillusionment some of the most emotionally complex, rhythmically polished, and intricately rhymed poems of the second half of the twentieth century
Offered and turned down poet laureate position in England
Tone is that of a man who has lost opportunities, failed to get the lover he wanted and found life less than it might have been
Belonged to the group known as the Movement, a revolt against rhetorical excess and cosmic portentousness
Disliked high Modernists


Talking in bed ought to be easiest, / Lying together there goes back so far, / An emblem of two people being honest.
Yet more and more time passes silently. / Outside, the wind’s incomplete unrest / Builds and disperses clouds about the sky,
And dark towns heap up on the horizon. / None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why / At this unique distance from isolation
It becomes still more difficult to find / Words at once true and kind, / Or not untrue and not unkind.

-Talking in Bed (in whole)

When I see a couple of kids/ And guess he’s fucking her and she’s/ Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,/ I know this is paradise
Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives-/ Bonds and gestures pushed to one side/ Like an outdated combine harvester,/ And everyone young going down the long slide
To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if/ Anyone looked at me, forty years back,/ And thought,
That’ll be the life;/ No God any more, or sweating in the dark
About hell and that, or having to hide/ What you think of the priest. He/ And his lot will all go down the long slide/ Like free bloody birds. And immediately
Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:/ The sun-comprehending glass,/ And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows/ Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

-High Windows (in whole)

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night./ Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare./ In time the curtain-edges will grow light./ Till then I see what’s really always there:/ Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,/ Making all thought impossible but how/ And where and when I shall myself die./ Arid interrogation: yet the dread/ of dying, and being dead,/ Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse/ -The good not done, the love not given, time/ Torn off unused- nor wretchedly because/ An only life can take so long to climb/ Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;/ But at the total emptiness for ever,/ The sure extinction that we travel to/ And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,/ Not to be anywhere,/ And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.
This is a special way of being afraid/ No trick dispels, Religion used to try,/ That vast moth-eaten musical brocade/ Created to pretend we never die,/ And specious stuff that says No rational being/ Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing/ That this is what we fear- no sight, no sound,/ No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,/ Nothing to love or link with,/ The anaesthetic from which none come round.
And so it says just on the edge of vision,/ A small unfocused blur, a standing chill/ That slows each impulse down to indecision./ Most things may never happen: this one will,/ And realisation of it rages out/ In furnace-fear when we are caught without/ People or drink. Courage is no good:/ It means not scaring others. Being brave/ Let’s no one off the grave./ Death is no different whined at than withstood.
Slwly light strengthens, and the room takes shape./ It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,/ Have always known, know that we can’t escape,/ Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go./ Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring/ In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring/ Intricate rented world beings to rouse./ The sky is white as clay, with no sun./ Work has to be done./ Postment like doctors go from house to house.

-Aubade (in whole)

Aubade is a song or poem announcing the dawn


2 Responses to “Philip Larkin”

  1. Amelia White Says:

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Great blog, good job getting it all together :)

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