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.

This poem was my introduction to Larkin. I don’t agree with the last two lines, but holy fucking shit, I’ve never agreed with anything more for the rest of it.

3 Replies to “This Be The Verse”

  1. Funny how, as a parent, you set out to be unlike your parents in a couple (or more) major ways, but end up being just like them in many other aspects. Ultimately your kids will end up faulting you for something you never thought of, while taking for granted whatever you worked hard to improve in yourself. And so it goes.

  2. If they ever have kids of their own, they’ll see the deal and judge you more kindly. Or, like Philip Larkin, they won’t. Which is why I don’t agree with those last lines either. He never got to the final chaper in all this.

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