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High Windows

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,003 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
Philip Larkin ponders ordinary lives in his poems: a Saturday show; travelling salesmen; young love. At the seaside "Everything crowds under the low horizon: / Steep beach, blue water, towels, read bathing caps, / The small hushed waves' repeated fresh collapse / Up the warm yellow sand". There's an almost Shakespearian obsession with ageing and passing time in the poems c ...more
Paperback, 36 pages
Published 1999 by Faber and Faber (first published 1974)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,785)
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Momina Masood
Mar 06, 2015 Momina Masood rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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-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.


Quarterly, is it, money reproaches me:
‘Why do you let me lie
Jun 25, 2015 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Há poetas que tratam as palavras de uma forma bonita, mas pouco entendo do que dizem; há outros, que julgo entender, mas que não me dizem nada; e há aqueles que sabem melhor do que eu o que eu quero dizer...
A primeira coisa que li de Philip Larkin foi um poema sobre a morte (ou sobre a vida, sei lá..."O bem não feito, o amor não dado, o gasto Tempo em nada"); é um poema impressionante que me libertou de qualquer ilusão de imortalidade. Infelizmente Aubade não está incluído em Janelas Altas mas e
Aug 16, 2013 Zanna rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry, politics, england
Before I developed my own politics I loved Larkin, for his way with words and ability to tug the heartstrings with maudlin reflections. He's got some great lines. But I can't read him now; he looks down on people too much, he's too conventional, too conservative, too narrowly, comfortably English. Of course, most of the time he isn't comfortable, he's reflecting on time and death, its spectre at the back of everything, but that's quite facile, he just drops it in, cleverly, at the right moment t ...more
Aug 03, 2007 Lorraine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

This must be one of the great stanzas in poetry.
Stephen Curran
Apr 02, 2015 Stephen Curran rated it really liked it
It's been a while since a set of lines sent a chill through me like this from The Old Fools, on being dead:

"It's only oblivion, true: / We had it before, but then it was going to end, / And was all the time merging with a unique endeavour / To bring to bloom the million-petalled flower / Of being here. Next time you can't pretend / There'll be anything else."

Death is also confronted in The Building, which might make the reader ponder the meaning of hospital visits: "a struggle to transcend / Th
Zöe Yu
Nov 14, 2014 Zöe Yu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
Philip Larkin's poems always make me think "Hey this is exactly what I felt". and then, silence.

Have you ever feel sad about the concrete jungle around us? This is the book for you.

Larkin has a sensitive observation. What appears in his eyes are always dipped in his thought.

Great booklet to start read Philip Larkin!
Steve Alker
Jan 28, 2012 Steve Alker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved these poems. High Windows itself is suddenly heart lifting. The family favourite, by dint of the language though has to be This be the Verse, "They fuck you up, your mum and dad----"! Brilliant.
Deborah Schuff
Oct 18, 2013 Deborah Schuff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This slim book is filled with profound thoughts of aging and life in general but written in the profane words of ordinary humans. Philip Larkin is an amazing poet.
Jonathon Izzard
Jan 25, 2012 Jonathon Izzard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bleak but it always rings true. A firm favourite poet. Always.
It is thanks to my Uncle Jürgen that I read this collection, as he had said he could never 'get warm' with Larkin, and I'm not surprised. I'd heard he had a propensity to steal all the covers, and on top of this has of course been dead for the last 26 years. So quite a chilly fellow indeed. Ok woefully poor jokes aside, Larkin writes of bleak things unflinchingly. In 'The Old Fools' he looks at the dribbling retarded imbeciles our parents become and wonders whether people like this are aware of ...more
Nov 10, 2013 Bryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, 2013
High Windows

When I see a couple of kids
And guess he's fucking her and she's
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,
I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives—
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the long slide

To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if
Anyone looked at me, forty years back,
And thought, That'll be the life;
No God any more, or sweating in the dark

About hell and that, or having to hide
What you think of the
Moira McPartlin
I had been looking forward to reading Philip Larkin for a long time because I had heard he was a great poet, but I was disappointed in this collection. The poems are good, his lines are wonderful, but I didn't like them. He came across to me as a stuck-up grumpy and bitter old man and I couldn't get past that.
Vilém Zouhar
The answer to the issue of 'missing out' is and always will be: 'yes - you will miss out'. What's essential to realize is that we will actually miss a lot of things and that shouldn't matter, because everyone will. To fight envy, you have to truly enjoy and take pleasure in your own doing.
In one of the poems, the author imagines a couple having sex (the poem bellow). He feels pain, but he tries to dignify the suffering caused by the feeling of missing out and/or staying alone. He describes that
Dec 02, 2014 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
or, i guess, the second, i read it december second, because i began and finished it in the two o'clock hour as two friends sat on my floor, one helping the other with statistics. anyway i've been looking for high windows (or the less deceived, or the whitsun weddings) forever and i found this at powell's, back during o-week. and then it sat on my desk until now. it's funny that i bought it during college orientation because, well, it's about death and aging, is not just about but obsessed with t ...more
Oct 28, 2015 Julie rated it it was amazing
Larkin being a favourite poet, I often dip into the Collected Poems I’ve had since it was published in the eighties. The value of reading a smaller collection from cover to cover though is that you encounter poems that you had somehow missed or had read once or twice and then forgotten about. As well as some of the most well-known poems of the late twentieth century (High Windows, This Be the Verse, Annus Mirabilis and others), High Windows contains some real gems that I’d somehow passed over be ...more
6/30 books read in 2015.

Never have I been more glad that I went back to a booksale to pick up a book I had seen the day before! This is absolutely one of my favourites now. Eventhough it was published in 1974, High Windows feels like it could have been published during my life time. This little book has made me excited to try other poetry collections.
Apr 09, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always enjoyed Philip Larkin's poetry so I decided to do my dissertation on him, and now, approaching the end of it, I love him even more. I can't really explain why I like him so much, but I do and he is, for me, the greatest poet of the modern world.
Jul 04, 2015 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It must be worth four stars for the truism, "They fuck you up, your mum and dad." The problem with reading Larkin, is that his most famous poems have become so absorbed into culture, that they're already familiar. We can no longer experience the freshness of reading them when they were first published. I therefore found this collection quite depressing, because it is a remnant of a time and place that no longer exists; one I caught the tail end of by being born in 1970. The last poem, The Explos ...more
Mar 02, 2014 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poems
I was a little familiar with Larkin before these but not much beyond "This be the verse". It's a superb collection. Often melancholy; set against the backdrop of England in post war decline - an England I vaguely remember as being a young child in the 80s when nothing happened on Sundays, the England that morrisey sung about, thatcher killed and Blair buried (see Larkin rail against commercialism in "Going, going"); and the downcast mood is pierced with larkin's brilliant insights about English ...more
Jun 24, 2013 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Truly can anyone weave such great humour with the everyday sadness of life lived at arm's length?
Matthew Aldridge
Jun 15, 2013 Matthew Aldridge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
It's good, but it's no Alien vs Predator.
Robert Beveridge
Philip Larkin, High Windows (Faber, 1974)

Larkin, the celebrated librarian-poet, got somewhat cranky in his middle age. He also got more experimental, both qualities that make for fine poetry. Add to these scurrilousness, a wicked sense of humor, and an ear for rhythm matched only in the modern world's finest poets, and you have a recipe for greatness.

So why doesn't Larkin always pull it off? Good question. When he's on, he's very, very on, but when he's off, it's a mess. Unlike most poets, Larki
Courtney Johnston
This is the one with those poems: 'Annus Mirabilis'

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the "Chatterley" ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

and '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.

For me, these are almost like a composer who slaves away for decades on little-known works, but has ear-fame for writing radio jingles: catchy
Ryan Dejonghe
Philip Larkin’s HIGH WINDOWS came as a recommendation on a list entitled “25 books to read before you’re 21”. That should have been my warning.

HIGH WINDOWS retains the same “ironic undertones” known of Larkin, but in this last book of poetry prior to his death, his poems take on a dark and juvenile influence. The bound volume of poems starts innocently enough with “To the Sea”, but follows with a story of casual drinking at a funeral in “Sympathy in White Major”, eventually proceeding to using t
Sep 10, 2007 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is a great little edition of High Windows from Faber and Faber, my favorite of Larkin's books. Having read him originally in his first collected edition (ISBN 0374522758), arranged chronologically, it was a real pleasure to be able to read through the book he created, and not just the poems he wrote. Besides the title poem (one of my true favorites), this collection also contains the oft quoted "This Be The Verse," ("They fuck you up, your mum and dad") though read against such poems "Homa ...more
Ian Paul
Jun 25, 2015 Ian Paul rated it really liked it
I only knew the one with that 'word' in it until recently. I began teaching for a few hours per month in Hull and stayed at the Royal Station Hotel, featured in the book, so I thought I'd better read it. Good stuff. A curmudgeonly old bugger he may have been, but he could surely tinker with English like few others.
Dig deeper, the 'F' word is not all he does.
Rob Blackmore
Philip Larkin's third and final anthology of his poems contains some fine and thoughtful verse.

As it's Larkin, this is never going to be a barrel of laughs, but there is humour (albeit dry and sarcastic). The poem 'The Trees' (nearly) verges on the sunny side, and his description of pouring a G&T in 'Sympathy in White Major' makes you want to reach for the Gordons and Schweppes.

When I drop four cubes of ice
Chimingly in a glass, and add
Three goes of gin, a lemon slice,
And let a ten-ounce to
Ben Doeh
Feb 21, 2016 Ben Doeh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These poems have an austere beauty. The poet was a nasty brute.

I wish I could say he's overrated, but these are superb poems. The bitterness and acidity that course under his contemplations of modern life acutely remind the reader of mortality, and our shallow realisation of what makes us want to live.
R.J. Lynch
Jul 14, 2014 R.J. Lynch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The famous ones are here but, as I grow older, it's The Old Fools that holds my attention most with that killer last line, "Well, we shall find out." Larkin is one of that tiny handful of writers who have changed my life and for knowledge of whom I am grateful.
Kate Moxon
Feb 08, 2016 Kate Moxon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My love affair with Philip Larking will never end - his knack for communicating his thoughts on life, death, the changing world and everything in between so beautifully and yet so accessibly is unequalled. And there's so much more to High Windows than This Be The Verse...
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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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“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.”
“The way the moon dashes through clouds that blow
Loosely as cannon-smoke...
Is a reminder of the strength and pain
Of being young; that it can't come again,
But is for others undiminished somewhere.”
More quotes…