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
AubadeI 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.
Church GoingOnce I am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
Faith HealingSlowly 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,
An Arundel TombSide by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
High WindowsWhen 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
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,
Having no heart to put aside the theft
And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was: