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 ... more »
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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,
Beyond the dark cartoons Are darker spaces where Small cloudy nests of stars Seem to float on air.
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,
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
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
Closed like confessionals, they thread Loud noons of cities, giving back None of the glances they absorb.
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:
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.
The Whitsun Weddings
That Whitsun, I was late getting away: Not till about One-twenty on the sunlit Saturday Did my three-quarters-empty train pull out,
For Sidney Bechet
That note you hold, narrowing and rising, shakes Like New Orleans reflected on the water, And in all ears appropriate falsehood wakes,
Sexual intercourse began In nineteen sixty-three (which was rather late for me) - Between the end of the Chatterley ban
Poetry of Departures
Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand, As epitaph: He chucked up everything And just cleared off,
Quotationsmore quotations »
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 t...Philip Larkin (1922-1986), British poet. (First published 1959). "The Savage Seventh," Required Writing (1984).
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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 ...