This Be the Verse by Philip Larkin Essay

This Be the Verse by Philip Larkin Essay

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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 sloppy-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.


Lately, I have read a good deal of poems by Philip Larkin, and one unifying factor that I have noticed is that Larkin never seems to use a filler. Every word in every one of his poems seems to be carefully crafted and placed, to the point where the flow and rhythm of the poem seem almost an accident. One poem I read that really stayed with me is the above poem, "This be the Verse." I will now show you how this poem, which at first glance seems to be written only to amuse, really has a much deeper meaning. I will examine the poem in several parts. First, I would like to examine the use of curse words in the poem, or why other words that would be considered more acceptable to the general public were not used. Then, I will discuss the three stanzas of the poem and what they were meant to do for the audience. Lastly, I will explore why Larkin would write such a poem, and what he was trying to get across to his audience by writing it.

The second line in this poem contains the word "fuck," a word that is usually not considered acceptable for the general public. Yet Larkin incorporates it almost immediately into his poem. I can think of four possible reasons why. Firstly, words such as fuck quickly and easily grab the audiences attention. This is similar to yelling "sex" in a crowded marketplace, everyone wants to know what is being discussed. Also, words like fuck prepare the audience for a humorous bit of poetry, and this perks the audience's attention, and lets them know off the bat that this will not be another long and boring verse.
Secondly, words such as fuck produce an atmosphere for adults, or mature people. One term that is used quite extensively lately is "adult language." This term branches off of the common idea that children should and would not use such words until they are older and have a more concrete knowledge of what they are really saying. Thus, by using a w...


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...of the poem then provide the solution: to stop reproducing. This is where Larkin says to the world that there is no way out of this problem. That the human race will either have to cease to exist, or simply live with all of it's problems.

Like all of his poems, Larkin wrote "This be the Verse" with very careful planning and word placement. And even though this is a funny poem, it has a very deep message to share with the world. Everyone knows that the world is full of problems, and that hundreds of organizations are trying hard to fix all of the problems in order to make our lives better. However, as demonstrated in the poem, we can never absolve all our problems because we keep handing all of our flaws on to posterity. Thus, the human race will forever have problems, and although we work hard to decrease some, we will always have new problems, and there will never be a completely happy world. And this lesson can be applied to a smaller environment as well. All the way through a country's internal problems, a city's problems, a family's problems and the problems one has with oneself. No one can ever lead a perfectly happy life. There will always be problems to overcome.

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