This Be The Verse, Phillip Larkin

Been a bit of a busy day today and I had been meaning to choose a poem all day, but am now doing it at nearly bedtime, after 10pm. Nevemind. After a lovely weekend – with a lot of parenting – where I had two walks with my eldest daughter, talking about parenthood, this poem seemed apt! I read it more humorously than depressingly. My father often talked about Phillip Larkin as he was a university librarian at the same time and their paths crossed.

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coasts,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

From Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)

Ocean, Humphrey; Philip Larkin; National Portrait Gallery, London;

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