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The Complete Poems Hardcover – Mar 27 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 729 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (T); 1st (first) edition (March 27 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374126968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374126964
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.6 x 23.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 953 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #659,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“[The Complete Poems] is a must-have for anyone who enjoys Larkin . . . Burnett’s notes offer a fascinating, compendious vade mecum into Larkin’s poetic world. Full of reassuring exactitude about variants, and extensive reference to the poet’s own comments on the work, they are most stimulating of all when they cite buried sources . . . A lot of thought as well as an enormous amount of research has clearly gone into this [volume].”

—Fiona Sampson, The Independent


“[Archie] Burnett presents a very different picture of Larkin from the one by which he came to be known; one that is far more literary, and occasionally far more amusing. A reader can now trace Larkin’s development from his allusive [early efforts] . . . to his more mature, better-known works.” —The Economist


“Apart from representing an unprecedented Larkin poetic storehouse, the other glory of The Complete Poems is Burnett’s dazzlingly detailed commentary . . . One of the chief pleasures . . . is tracing the emergence of one of English poetry’s most distinctive poetic voices . . . A landmark volume, a wonder-book of verse by one of the art form’s best practitioners of the last hundred years.” —Terry Kelly, The London Magazine

Praise for Philip Larkin:

“More often than any other English poet since the war, Larkin gave us lines that it is unlikely we’ll be able to forget.”Ian Hamilton, The Times (London)

“Larkin is resolute, forthright, witty, and gloomy. This is the man who famously said that deprivation was for him what daffodils were for Wordsworth. Yet surely the results of this life, in the shape of his poems, are gifts, not deprivations.”Donald Hall, The New Criterion

About the Author

Philip Larkin (1922-1985) grew up in Coventry, England. He was the best-loved poet of his generation and the recipient of innumerable honors, including the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

Archie Burnett is co-director of the Editorial Institute and professor of English at Boston University. He has edited the Oxford editions of The Poems of A. E. Housman and The Letters of A. E. Housman.


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Amazon.com: 14 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful Collection June 18 2012
By Steiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
A beautifully published, well edited collection of Larkin's poetry. Arnie Burnett's editorial work has generated an exuisite volume, complete with incisive commentary on each poem, in addition to Larkin's original working notes. There are also a number of unpublised poems here, of varying quality. As to Larkin's corpus, it is quite clear that he continues to appear as one of Britain's major literary talents. Poems such as Hight Windows and Here have an enduring coldness and beauty, a beauty that refuses all sentiment. Larkin's disposition was, of course, strangely desolate, and hermetic. I can identify with his coldness, his collected reflections. I cannot always access his peculiar refusal to relate to others. His is a poetry that captures the failure of relating, as well as of belonging. His voice only penned a few poems, but they are among our greatest.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
ALL of Larkins Poems Are Here. Aug. 28 2012
By Michael E. Murray MD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This collection has the poems which have previously been unavailable in addition to all of Larkin's published poems. The latter part of the volume has extensive notes on sources. The addition of the unpublished poems gives further insight into Larkin's famous preoccupation with death. He does not seem to be concerned with the act of dying, the process which gives pause to most of us. He is afraid of the existential state of nonbeing which death entails. Leaving death aside, many of the unpublished poems are very funny.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Serious Book on Serious Earth Sept. 12 2012
By HJA - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This complete collection of Larkin's Poetry served to remind, at least me, of the beauty of "unbullied" language, and how truly great of a poet Philip Larkin was. The book's commentary is a great way for lovers of Larkin to understand how Larkin composed his poems and, in some cases, how long it took him to be satisfied that a poem was complete (I think of "The Whitsun Weddings" which took, all told, almost three years to write [if you begin at the date of the occurrence]). The only think I would liked to have seen would have been a Table of Contents that listed all the poems and their respective pages rather than simply each book, his unpublished, and his incomplete poems; but the organization of the book is not so bad as to warrant removing a star.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Larkin explained July 10 2013
By Catherine McCallum - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've always been ambivalent about Philip Larkin's place as Britain's greatest post-war poet, but this collection adds to the poems an extensive commentary which helps explain Larkin's pessimism and gloomy outlook. The poems of course stand alone, but the commentary helps in understanding Larkin as someone not entirely mired in discontent, who is reacting in a visceral and personal way to the more troubling circumstances of his life. There are some truly great poems here, and lovely, spare descriptive passages. To my mind, some of his best work remained unpublished in his lifetime and these poems can lead to a new appreciation of his work. Just don't read the book to cheer yourself up.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Vital yet depressing, illuninatingly dark July 6 2013
By James Wood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
That Larkin is Britain's favourite poet is down to his spare, stripped down, conversational style, combined with a dyspeptic view of life which seems congenial to the British in a way Americans can't always share:

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.

That is taken from "This Be The Verse", an oddly titled lyric poem in three verses of four iambic tetrameters on an alternating rhyme scheme, with its even more famous opening line (which I won't quote here because it contains an expletive).

This is a fine volume of Larkin's poems, full of scholarly annotations, essential reading for anybody wanting to mug up on this titan of 20th century poetry.

His obsession with death and the futility he saw in life may be dark and depressing, but the vitality in it shines through. Larkin is an unmissable poet, plumbing the very depths of despair.