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Collected Poems

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  6,764 Ratings  ·  187 Reviews
One of the best-known and best-loved poets of the English-speaking world, Philip Larkin had only a small number of poems published during his lifetime. Collected Poems brings together not only all his books--The North Ship, The Less Deceived, The Whitsun Weddings, and High Windows--but also his uncollected poems from 1940 to 1984.

This new edition reflects Larkin's own orde
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published October 10th 1988)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Paul Bryant
Nov 14, 2015 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Most of the time I’m not much for poetry, it’s just so precious and thinks a lot of itself, it swanks around preening and sneering.

Most of the time this is my kind of poetry:

There's a tugboat down by the river
Where a cement bag’s just a-droopin' on down
Oh, that cement is just for the weight, dear
Five'll get you ten old Mack is back in town.
(Louis Armstrong)


A candy-colored clown they call the sandman
Tiptoes to my room every night
Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper
“Go to sleep everything i
Petra Eggs
Read Emir Never's comment. Clever man!

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.


Riku Sayuj
May 22, 2014 Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, anthologies

Simple, uncomplicated poetry. It is no wonder that Larkin is one of the best loved poets. He never tries to hide anything behind his words, his words and his poetry are all-in, so to speak. I need to read the properly arranged version, but this was a good start.


“Best Society” by Philip Larkin

When I was a child, I thought,
Casually, that solitude
Never needed to be sought.
Something everybody had,
Like nakedness, it lay at hand,
Not specially right or specially wrong,
A plentiful and obvious t
Jay Pluck
Jul 20, 2007 Jay Pluck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

When people say they don't like Larkin I wonder what the f*ck they read that they didn't like.
Megan Baxter
May 19, 2014 Megan Baxter rated it liked it
I fully admit that I know very little about poetry. Very little. But what I've now read of Philip Larkin's work really didn't grab me at all. At times, it irritated the heck out of me. (This started with a nasty little poem called "To My Wife" and never really went away. Also, as far as I could tell, he never married.)

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read
Jun 17, 2012 Hadrian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, poetry
This Be The Verse - Happy Father's Day!

I feel like a liar whenever I mark down a good book of poetry as 'read'. You don't read it straight through, and you don't ever finish it. With poetry (and memorable fiction) you go back and reference the good bits infrequently. Larkin's joining that group, no question.

So what if the man is a shitheel? What he created will endure, beautiful and decayed as it is.
Sep 14, 2008 Nathaniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Because the section of Larkin's "Early Poems" makes the final third of this collection a rather unrewarding slog, "Collected Poems" sat on my "currently reading" shelf for nearly a year. Then I decided that I didn't need to read every one of the poems that Larkin himself downplayed and shuffled from the spotlight in order to consider this book "read." I read it, from page 3 to page 221 and now and then, in disappointed little moments, I read bits of the final hundred pages.

Before I try describin
James Murphy
Jun 07, 2010 James Murphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Larkin's poetry is so smooth and so pleasing to the eye and mind that it seems effortless to read and contain within yourself. A Larkin poem seems so perfectly said and put together that one feels his elegant arrangement came to him in a flash of inspiration. Probably not so. I think he struggled with poems for years, just like other poets. But he struggled with grace, or at least the end result is graceful. He's Auden-like in that way. That word again, his poetry is elegant in the same way Aude ...more
Mar 27, 2015 Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry-authors
To only give such a famous poet as Philip Larkin only four stars means I did not care for these poems as much as others do.

Here is his most famous poem. Unfortunately, it is totally different than all of his others:

This Be The Verse
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-s
Jan 10, 2009 Manny rated it liked it
I was given a copy of this book by my parents. (No, really! I am not making this up!) I'm afraid I'm still in shock... may have a comment by 2011 if the therapy works out.
Stephanie Sun
Apr 09, 2015 Stephanie Sun rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dead-tree
Philip Larkin seemed to be everywhere in 2011 and 2012. Annus Mirabilis figured prominently in Julian Barnes's novel The Sense of an Ending (so much so that critical analysis of Larkin took over a good portion of Colm Toibin's review of that Booker Prize-winning novella in The New York Review of Books):
Philip Larkin has an unfinished poem from the early 1960s called “The Dance” in which the main character “in the darkening mirror sees/The shame of evening trousers, evening tie” and then, on ar
Jan 05, 2015 Edward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, poetry, 5-star, uk-ireland

The North Ship
--'All catches alight'
--'This was your place of birth, this daytime palace'
--'The moon is full tonight'
--'Kick up the fire, and let the flames break loose'
--'The horns of the morning'
--'Climbing the hill within the deafening wind'
--'Within the dream you said'
--'Like the train's beat'
--'I put my mouth'
--Nursery Tale
--The Dancer
--'The bottle is drunk out by one'
--'To write one song, I said'
--'If grief could burn out'
--Ugly Sister
Erika Schoeps
May 24, 2015 Erika Schoeps rated it it was amazing
It took me a while to really appreciate Larkin. The formal rhyme schemes can often create awkwardly phrased sentiments, and sometimes left me confused. After more time and thought, I started to warm up to Larkin's poem. But as soon as I discovered their meaning, I was taken aback with how freakin' depressing it is. It took me so long to get through just because reading these for an entire day would literally put me in a terrible mood. Larkin creates beautiful scenes and metaphors simply to rip t ...more
Oct 20, 2011 James rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Why do I like pessimistic poetry and yet insist upon an optimistic outlook? There must be something romantic about it all.

Larkin, I can say now that I've tackled this comprehensive collection, manages a sort of Catullus like clarity and everyday-familiarity without cramping things with fluffy or exotic language. The standbys are all there, the poems that worm their way into every collection. But through it all a puritan's cautionary appreciation of the crudeness of sexual release is amply displ
Feb 05, 2012 Farren rated it it was ok
I feel like I should have liked this book but I didn't. Just stock-in-trade white-man-thinking-about-mortality-and-childhood-and-the-fragility-of-life-while-looking-at-nature poems, and I wound up feeling really alienated and orphaned, like, I cannot identify with a huge portion of the western canon because it is in this tradition and totally reinforces concepts in which I cannot, will not, REFUSE to place faith. Where/who are my progenitors? Also, there's this weird poem where he empathizes wit ...more
Jun 29, 2012 Nikki rated it it was amazing
My profile says it all. I love Philip Larking. Even more-so, I love that a deep connection can be made between people who are unknown to each other or lived a different timeline simply by words. Words that spark the same feelings and excitements.

Everyone has that "one author" or "one writer" whom they love to read. And when they read that one "author" or "writer," they feel that they were reading was written especially for them. They feel understood and, for a brief moment, content with being wh
Jun 12, 2008 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: every soul-having person who suspects they might not have one
Shelves: poetry, forms
My favorite poet. Here's why:

For, though I've no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognized, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.

Apr 24, 2013 RK-ique rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
First, a big thank you to Tilly for including Larkin’s 'Lines on a Young Lady's Photograph Album’ in her review of this book. After decades of having a baseless bias against Larkin, probably just his name and time, I sat down and read his collected poems: a wonderful read.

The initial challenge was to decide how best to read these poems. I finally decided on reading out loud, not easily done in a busy household, in order best to catch the rhythms and rhymes. It was also necessary to read these po
Oct 02, 2013 Brooke rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, england
I had to record some of my favorite verses from this collection and my reactions. I haven't finished the book and probably won't ever, but I don't think that's how one should read poetry - I need to be in the proper state or I'll miss something very important in each verse. I gave this book a thorough skimming through for a few key concepts - recently, I was drawn to new loves, reconciling my age, and memory.

"This Be The verse"
"They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they d
Jul 16, 2013 Kiof added it
Larkin's considerable reputation rests on his cantankerousness, his misanthropy. In reading so many of these poems though, what struck me most was how soulful, how heartfelt, how goddamn lyrical, so many of them are. His self-described master subject may still have been deprivation, but images of the natural world are not exempt from his vision of the world.

Like any minor poet -- and he surely is a minor poet, and there isn't a thing in the world wrong with that -- Larkin can capture an incredib
Mar 23, 2011 Brooke rated it it was amazing
What I like about this edition of Larkin's poems is that the publisher grouped Larkin's poetry according to their respective collections, as Larkin himself intended them to be presented.

In my mind, this adds to the authenticity of the reading experience, where your understanding of Larkin's perspectives and meditations grows and evolves as he forms his ideas over time.

My particular favorite is "Church Going". I recommend contrasting/comparing it to "Whitsun Weddings".

They make for an interestin
Raymond Weir
Larkin probably resonates more as one gets older, but you don't have to be ancient to appreciate his brilliant craftsmanship. While many celebrated modern poets come across as ephemeral, foolish or even lightweight, Larkin's melancholia is beautiful, soaring and timeless.
There was a period a few years ago when his reputation suffered, mainly due to unflattering accounts of his personal life and political views. Childish critics who engage in character assassination usually have little else to sa
Oct 30, 2014 Abby rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
“Who can confront/The instantaneous grief of being alone?”

Philip Larkin can! Such grim little poems, at times funny, at times melancholy, and always bearing the thin undertone of death. I like Larkin. I like that he was a librarian for 20-some years, thinking about these poems behind those unsmiling eyes, rimmed by those inch-thick spectacles.

Favorites (including a lot of the famous ones, naturally):
“Church Going”
“Poetry of Departures”
“Triple Time”
“Talking in Bed”
“This B
Feb 21, 2008 Dawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh Philip Larkin. I read your aubades and I do like them or at least I did. But you are kind of a uniform, in this British way, as to ruin something about the poem by making it hard. At least that's what I remember. I might be be a dark mountain inside this, your office, but Sorry Fella. You get 3 stars.
N Yen
He writes beautifully, masterfully, and put tears in your eyes.

Some of my personal favourite quotes:

"and none
Thought of the others they would never meet
Or how their lives would all contain this hour."


"We slowed again,
And as the tightened brakes took hold, there swelled
A sense of falling, like an arrow-shower
Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming rain."
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Sep 13, 2011 Jayaprakash Satyamurthy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I nearly docked this collection a star because some of the early/uncollected poems in the end are not as good as the rest, but the rest, basically the four collections released in Larkin's life are too good not earn the whole 5 stars. Bitter, tender and wry, Larkin's voice is distinctive and essential.
Oct 05, 2014 Kricket rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2014
been picking away at this one since february, reading a poem here and there. sometimes i think i need one of my old college professors to explain them to me as i read once, twice, three times and still have no idea what is happening.

but there were some favorites here i won't want to forget: "winter" "deceptions" and "aubade."
May 21, 2015 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetic-license, 2015
"Lines on a Young Lady's Photograph Album"
"Church Going"
"Faith Healing"
"Talking in Bed"
"Sunny Prestatyn"
"High Windows"
"This Be The Verse"
"Annus Mirabilis"
"The Mower"
Nov 26, 2011 wychwood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Larkin is an utterly miserable git - misanthropy, superadded misogyny, and general bitterness ooze from almost every poem. But, man, can he write. His poetry is just amazing - lucid and clear and such great use of words. It's a real shame that his personality shows through so clearly.
Bro_Pair أعرف
Aug 26, 2013 Bro_Pair أعرف rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great stuff when it's great, middling when it's not. If this collection only consisted of his later poems, and din't include his juvenalia, it'd be five stars. Nobody twists the knife like Larkin in his later years.
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Philip Arthur Larkin, CH, CBE, FRSL, was an English poet, novelist and jazz critic. He spent his working life as a university librarian and was offered the Poet Laureateship following the death of John Betjeman, but declined the post. Larkin is commonly regarded as one of the greatest English poets of the latter half of the twentieth century. He first came to prominence with the release of his thi ...more
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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.”
“Uncontradicting solitude
Supports me on its giant palm;
And like a sea-anemone
Or simple snail, there cautiously
Unfolds, emerges, what I am.”
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