Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin Poems

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.
...

Once I am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
...

Slowly the women file to where he stands
Upright in rimless glasses, silver hair,
Dark suit, white collar. Stewards tirelessly
Persuade them onwards to his voice and hands,
...

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
...

Beyond the dark cartoons
Are darker spaces where
Small cloudy nests of stars
Seem to float on air.
...

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
...

That Whitsun, I was late getting away:
Not till about
One-twenty on the sunlit Saturday
Did my three-quarters-empty train pull out,
...

8.

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
...

What do they think has happened, the old fools,
To make them like this? Do they somehow suppose
It's more grown-up when your mouth hangs open and drools,
And you keep on pissing yourself, and can't remember
...

Closed like confessionals, they thread
Loud noons of cities, giving back
None of the glances they absorb.
...

That note you hold, narrowing and rising, shakes
Like New Orleans reflected on the water,
And in all ears appropriate falsehood wakes,
...

Strange to know nothing, never to be sure
Of what is true or right or real,
But forced to qualify or so I feel,
Or Well, it does seem so:
...

'Of course I was drugged, and so heavily I did not regain
consciousness until the next morning. I was horrified to
...

The eye can hardly pick them out
From the cold shade they shelter in,
Till wind distresses tail and main;
...

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
...

New eyes each year
Find old books here,
And new books,too,
Old eyes renew;
...

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
...

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.
...

Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death
...

'Dockery was junior to you,
Wasn't he?' said the Dean. 'His son's here now.'
Death-suited, visitant, I nod. 'And do
...

Philip Larkin Biography

Born in 1922 in Coventry, England. He attended St. John's College, Oxford. His first book of poetry, The North Ship, was published in 1945 and, though not particularly strong on its own, is notable insofar as certain passages foreshadow the unique sensibility and maturity that characterizes his later work. In 1946, Larkin discovered the poetry of Thomas Hardy and became a great admirer of his poetry, learning from Hardy how to make the commonplace and often dreary details of his life the basis for extremely tough, unsparing, and memorable poems. With his second volume of poetry, The Less Deceived (1955), Larkin became the preeminent poet of his generation, and a leading voice of what came to be called 'The Movement', a group of young English writers who rejected the prevailing fashion for neo-Romantic writing in the style of Yeats and Dylan Thomas. Like Hardy, Larkin focused on intense personal emotion but strictly avoided sentimentality or self-pity. In 1964, he confirmed his reputation as a major poet with the publication of The Whitsun Weddings, and again in 1974 with High Windows: collections whose searing, often mocking, wit does not conceal the poet's dark vision and underlying obsession with universal themes of mortality, love, and human solitude. Deeply anti-social and a great lover (and published critic) of American jazz, Larkin never married and conducted an uneventful life as a librarian in the provincial city of Hull, where he died in 1985.)

The Best Poem Of Philip Larkin

Aubade

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 anasthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays 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
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly 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 begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Philip Larkin Comments

Chris-ann Chikane 04 October 2012

I request your permission to include the attached extrac from poemhunter: Title: Night-Music by Philip Larkins.We want to use this and all subsequent editions of the above-referenced book, in all media of expression now known or later developed, and in all foreign language translations and other derivative works published or prepared by Mystar Education & Business Solutions (Pty) Ltd or its licensees, for distribution throughout the world, and also in versions made by non-profit organisations for use by blind or physically handicapped persons. Appropriate credit will be given on the imprint page of the book. If specific credit is required, please provide this. If the permission request relates to an image, please send us a high-resolution JPEG, TIFF or PDF of the image, since this will ensure the quality of the image during printing. Kind Regards Chris-Ann Chikane chrism@starschools.co.za

13 39 Reply
Marcus Clements 22 June 2012

I am probably making a very silly error....I am unable to select Phillip Larkin’s poems; can anyone help?

28 20 Reply
Tai Chi Italy 16 July 2011

Well it wasn't mum and dad who phucked this poets poems up! It was poemshuntered down and deleted. Philip! if you are up there, curse them for their bad taste. with a smile from Tai, from his neck of the midland woods

24 15 Reply
Charlotte Chadwick 06 August 2009

Hi-the word anaesthetic is misspelled: 'anasthetic' in the Larkin poem 'Aubade' on this site. Please correct! Cheers.

14 10 Reply
Chris Guidon 18 June 2009

Oblivion, Ill drink to oblivion. A rutting alchemist just like the rest, my potent breath warms their swollen breast's, the differentiation between truth and lies blurred, and my eloquent post modernist jive now slurred, ...so, dazed... i drift into the night, head filled with romance, seduced by the city lights. larkin taught me my moral views, nescient i, ever obtuse; subscribed to the school of self abuse. Now the smoky sweet taste of vomit brings dawn. I write on the walls, the words 'Vacant' and 'Forlorn.'

9 6 Reply
Peter Henderson 15 April 2018

Larkin is like Fritos: you can read a book of his poems but nobody can read just one. Such a tonic!

2 2 Reply
Paul Geiger 29 November 2014

New, impressive biography out by James Booth. Reviewed in WSJ,11/28/14. Maybe Dan Reynolds should read.

19 9 Reply
Dan Reynolds 23 September 2014

You show some promise, but the archaic language lets you down. Try to read some good contemporary poets and expand your thoughts without the restriction of form.

14 43 Reply
Cody Dickerson 30 April 2013

How come Larkin's poem, This Be the Verse, is not in the poem list?

55 24 Reply
Chris-ann Chikane 04 October 2012

I request your permission to include extract from Poemhunter: Night Music by Philip Larkin We will use subsequent editions of the above-referenced book, in all media of expression now known or later developed, and in all foreign language translations and other derivative works published or prepared by Mystar Education & Business Solutions (Pty) Ltd or its licensees, for distribution throughout the world, and also in versions made by non-profit organisations for use by blind or physically handicapped persons. Appropriate credit will be given on the imprint page of the book. If specific credit is required, please provide this. If the permission request relates to an image, please send us a high-resolution JPEG, TIFF or PDF of the image, since this will ensure the quality of the image during printing. Please contact me Kind Regards Chris-Ann Chikane +27 11 018-5007 chrism@starschools.co.za

15 46 Reply

Philip Larkin Quotes

Above all, though, children are linked to adults by the simple fact that they are in process of turning into them. For this they may be forgiven much. Children are bound to be inferior to adults, or there is no incentive to grow up.

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