Poem a Day 2014: Philip Larkin “This Be the Verse” (#17)

LarkinBook cover of the collection edited by my former, awesome BU professor, who first introduced me to Larkin: Archie Burnett.

This Be The Verse

By Philip Larkin

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 coats,

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.

Philip Larkin, “This Be the Verse” from Collected Poems. Used at this site by permission of The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Philip Larkin.

Source: Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)

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