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.

Philip Larkin

Note: The title of this poem is thought to be an ironic allusion to the Robert Louis Stevenson verse Requiem.

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About Russell Boyle

Russell Boyle is a mathematics teacher, writer, and poet. His poetry anthologies are titled The Beginning, Footprints and Loneliness. Russell is the author of the Year 7 to 8 Mathematics Short-Answer Tasks, the Year 7 to 10 Mathematics Multiple-Choice Tasks, the Year 9 to 10 Extended-Response Tasks, the solutions to the Year 12 VCAA Mathematics Exams and the Web-Programming For Beginners series of courses. Sample poems and questions may be downloaded from http://russellboyle.com
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5 Responses to This Be the Verse by Philip Larkin

  1. Andrew Ocean says:

    Too late for me!

  2. Theologically this is fascinating. The theologians call it original sin, though they mean something more than learned behavior. And a very similar argument was used by some Christians in the 3rd and 4th centuries as an argument in favor of virginity as a virtue (this was before priests were expected to be celibate). By refusing to have sex, the only available method of birth control, one could defeat the passage of death and evil. It wasn’t a statement about the evils of sex per se, it was a statement about the human race as a conduit for evil.
    Sorry about the theology lesson. I am sometimes O/C.

  3. Pingback: Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson | russellboyle

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