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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Parenting Advice from Philip Larkin


According to Alastair from sadly soon to be shut Alastair's Heart Monitor, Philip Larkin (1922-1985) was reputedly a miserable, bad-tempered, unreasonable, anti-social, nasty bit of work. My father liked him so it must be true to degree.

He introduced me to this beauty. I can identify with a lot of it, but am not sad to have had children. My cousin had a vasectomy when he was twenty six, so sure was he about his desire not to pass on his misery. Larkin wrote this when he was my age, so he had had time to reflect.


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.
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7 comments:

Wolfie said...

Yes but Colin the only reason they fuck you up is because you think about these things so much. Should I, shouldn't I - will she, won't she?

Just get rutting you bloody namby-pamby-boy, its just good fun and not worth the worrying. The new generation will learn from your mistakes and then make some new ones of their own.

If you don't the emotionally numb will inherit the Earth.

Colin Campbell said...

I'm done with procreational rutting for this lifetime thank you. Two kids are plenty. I am very happy to have my kids and they seem to appreciate me.

I think that the emotionally numb have already inherited the earth.

Thanks for your life advice. I will just carry on thanks.

Mrs Slocombe said...

Ah but there's a difference between repression and numbness; emotionally numb people don't write great poetry. And as Larkin also wrote Days he was fooling us slightly with this poem.
Thanks for dropping by. Coincidentally I have just reviewed Judith Lucy and Augusten Burroughs' childhood miseries for the Age,('in the news again again' over at Regrets) and so had to revisit 'This Be the Verse'

Alastair will be much missed indeed, innit?

Colin Campbell said...

Yes Alastair is a somewhat Scottish contemporary and seems to be interested in a lot of the same things that I am. I only came to the party pretty late in the game. I have been reading his posts before he vanishes.

He has such a way with words.

The Tin Drummer said...

This poem is excellent for learning. It slips into memory really easily and I would suggest to anyone keen on getting into poetry that they start with this!

I wouldn't worry too much about the message, or even give it too much thought - it's typical Larkin humorous, baiting cynicism. That it makes such a good poem is down to his genius.

Colin Campbell said...

Thank you Professor Drummer. I will immediately recite it 300 times and commit it to memory. That is my whole thing with poetry. Mostly I can work out that I like it. I just can't work out why it is good in the eyes of people who know, like you. A bit like art really.

I mean I like Spike Milligan, Wilfred Owen and Philip Larkin.

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