Biography of Philip Larkin
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.
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Philip Larkin Poems
Once I am sure there's nothing going on I step inside, letting the door thud shut. Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
An Arundel Tomb
Side by side, their faces blurred, The earl and countess lie in stone, Their proper habits vaguely shown As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
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.
The Old Fools
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
Talking In Bed
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.
Closed like confessionals, they thread Loud noons of cities, giving back None of the glances they absorb.
Homage To A Government
Next year we are to bring all the soldiers home For lack of money, and it is all right. Places they guarded, or kept orderly, We want the money for ourselves at home
Walking around in the park Should feel better than work: The lake, the sunshine, The grass to lie on,
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
You do not come dramatically, with dragons That rear up with my life between their paws And dash me butchered down beside the wagons, The horses panicking; nor as a clause
Home Is So Sad
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,
Sexual intercourse began In nineteen sixty-three (which was rather late for me) - Between the end of the Chatterley ban
In frames as large as rooms that face all ways And block the ends of streets with giant loaves,
Love Songs In Age
She kept her songs, they kept so little space, The covers pleased her: One bleached from lying in a sunny place, One marked in circles by a vase of water,
About twenty years ago
Two girls came in where I worked -
A bosomy English rose
And her friend in specs I could talk to.
Faces in those days sparked
The whole shooting-match off, and I doubt
If ever one had like hers:
But it was the friend I took out,