The Complete Poems Hardcover – Mar 27 2012
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“[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
“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) on Philip Larkin
“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 on Philip Larkin
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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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.