Philip Larkin Philip Larkin > Quotes


Philip Larkin quotes (showing 1-30 of 109)

“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
“I have no enemies. But my friends don't like me.”
Philip Larkin
Aubade

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
—The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.”
Philip Larkin, Collected Poems
“What will survive of us is love.”
Philip Larkin, Poems
“So many things I had thought forgotten
Return to my mind with stranger pain:
Like letters that arrive addressed to someone
Who left the house so many years ago.”
Philip Larkin
“Morning, noon & bloody night,
Seven sodding days a week,
I slave at filthy WORK, that might
Be done by any book-drunk freak.
This goes on until I kick the bucket.
FUCK IT FUCK IT FUCK IT FUCK IT”
Philip Larkin, Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica
“I can't understand these chaps who go round American universities explaining how they write poems: It's like going round explaining how you sleep with your wife.”
Philip Larkin
“Something, like nothing, happens anywhere.”
Philip Larkin
“I feel the only thing you can do about life is to preserve it, by art if you're an artist, by children if you're not.”
Philip Larkin, Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica
“Poetry is nobody’s business except the poet’s, and everybody else can fuck off.”
Philip Larkin
“Originality is being different from oneself, not others.”
Philip Larkin, Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica
“Seriously, I think it is a grave fault in life that so much time is wasted in social matters, because it not only takes up time when you might be doing individual private things, but it prevents you storing up the psychic energy that can then be released to create art or whatever it is. It's terrible the way we scotch silence & solitude at every turn, quite suicidal. I can't see how to avoid it, without being very rich or very unpopular, & it does worry me, for time is slipping by , and nothing is done. It isn't as if anything was gained by this social frivolity, It isn't: it's just a waste.”
Philip Larkin, Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica
“Home is so sad. It stays as it was left, / Shaped to the comfort of the last to go / As if to win them back”
Philip Larkin
“In everyone there sleeps
A sense of life lived according to love.
To some it means the difference they could make
By loving others, but across most it sweeps,
As all they might have done had they been loved.
That nothing cures.”
Philip Larkin
“Uncontradicting solitude
Supports me on its giant palm;
And like a sea-anemone
Or simple snail, there cautiously
Unfolds, emerges, what I am.”
Philip Larkin
“On me your voice falls as they say love should,
Like an enormous yes.”
Philip Larkin, The Whitsun Weddings
tags: love
“How little our careers express what lies in us, and yet how much time they take up. It's sad, really.”
Philip Larkin, Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica
“Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.”
Philip Larkin, High Windows
“Parents fuck you up. They don't mean to but they do. ”
Philip Larkin
“Sex means nothing--just the moment of ecstasy, that flares and dies in minutes.”
Philip Larkin
“Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth.”
Philip Larkin
“I'm terrified of the thought of time passing (or whatever is meant by that phrase) whether I 'do' anything or not. In a way I may believe, deep down, that doing nothing acts as a brake on 'time's - it doesn't of course. It merely adds the torment of having done nothing, when the time comes when it really doesn't matter if you've done anything or not.”
Philip Larkin, Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica
“Everyone should be forcibly transplanted to another continent from their family at the age of three.”
Philip Larkin, Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica
“Dear, I can't write, it's all a fantasy: a kind of circling obsession.”
Philip Larkin, Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica
“You have to distinguish between things that seemed odd when they were new but are now quite familiar, such as Ibsen and Wagner, and things that seemed crazy when they were new and seem crazy now, like 'Finnegans Wake' and Picasso.”
Philip Larkin
“Only in books the flat and final happens,
Only in dreams we meet and interlock....”
Philip Larkin
“Since the majority of me
Rejects the majority of you,
Debating ends forthwith, and we
Divide.”
Philip Larkin
“I have a sense of melancholy isolation, life rapidly vanishing, all the usual things. It's very strange how often strong feelings don't seem to carry any message of action.”
Philip Larkin, Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica
“Love again: wanking at ten past three
(Surely he's taken her home by now?),
The bedroom hot as a bakery,
The drink gone dead, without showing how
To meet tomorrow, and afterwards,
And the usual pain, like dysentery.

Someone else feeling her breasts and cunt,
Someone else drowned in that lash-wide stare,
And me supposed to be ignorant,
Or find it funny, or not to care,
Even ... but why put it into words?
Isolate rather this element

That spreads through other lives like a tree
And sways them on in a sort of sense
And say why it never worked for me.
Something to do with violence
A long way back, and wrong rewards,
And arrogant eternity.”
Philip Larkin
“I wouldn't mind seeing China if I could come back the same day.”
Philip Larkin

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