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Collected Poems

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  7,795 ratings  ·  220 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
...more
Paperback, Revised Edition, 218 pages
Published February 17th 2003 by Faber and Faber (first published 1988)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  7,795 ratings  ·  220 reviews


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Paul Bryant
Oct 29, 2015 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)

or


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

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.

Favorite:

“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
...more
Petra-X
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.

Edit

Jay Pluck
Jul 20, 2007 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
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
...more
Steven Godin
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-britain, poetry
Favourites -

Places, Loved Ones
Maiden Name
No Road
Triple Time
Latest Face
I Remember, I Remember
If, My Darling
Love Songs in Age
Talking in Bed
Dublinesque

LATEST FACE

Latest face, so effortless
Your great arrival at my eyes,
No one standing near could guess
Your beauty had no home til then;
Precious vagrant, recognise
My look, and do not turn again.

Admirer and admired embrace
On a useless level, where
I contain your current grace,
You my judgment; yet to move
Into really untidy air
Brings no lasting attribute,
...more
Nathaniel
Oct 16, 2007 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
...more
Manny
Jan 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
a stephanie
Apr 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Wendy Liu
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I first encountered Larkin in the context of a high school English class. The prospect of impending exams and having to churn out 1,500 words on The Theme of Death in Larkin's Poetry can sour one's appreciation of even the most skilled writer, so it wasn't until recently that I felt able to re-read his work with the respect it deserves. If your own experience with Larkin was similarly marred by scholastic resentment, I would suggest you to take another look at his poems once your grades are no ...more
James Murphy
Feb 09, 2010 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 ...more
Erika Schoeps
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 ...more
Rachel
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every soul-having person who suspects they might not have one
Shelves: forms, poetry
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.


...more
Bryan
At first I did not like this at all. This edition collects five previously published collections, and the first--The North Ship--I really, really disliked. To the point I almost put the book down and went on to someone else. The only reason I kept going was because a reviewer I respect had mentioned how much he liked Larkin's poems, so I thought that there might yet be something I'd find to enjoy. Starting immediately after that first collection, though, I thought there was a shift in Larkin's ...more
Jimmy
Mar 08, 2015 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
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
...more
James (The Serial Reader)
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reading Larkin is a lesson in emotional surgery. I was shocked to find that, once taken to with scalpel and world-weary anaesthetic, I resembled Larkin underneath in many ways. Larkin is simply less inhibited and more frank than I am with myself — perhaps a little more definite in his conclusions. And I have to admit, it scared me as a twenty-one-year-old with a whole life ahead of myself. Larkin does not intend to obfuscate or window dress here. The poems are, for the most part, honest and ...more
Sseonana
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: love, poetry
Devoured this. Where has Larkin been all my life? Sorry for skipping the uni lectures on his stuff to nurse hangovers. Deffo not worth it
Edward
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, poetry, 5-star, uk-ireland
Introduction

The North Ship
--'All catches alight'
--'This was your place of birth, this daytime palace'
--'The moon is full tonight'
--Dawn
--Conscript
--'Kick up the fire, and let the flames break loose'
--'The horns of the morning'
--Winter
--'Climbing the hill within the deafening wind'
--'Within the dream you said'
--Night-Music
--'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
--'I
...more
Anna Maria Ballester Bohn
I read this as my "read at least one poem a day" thing, so it took me a while, but I utterly enjoyed it. I'm trying to get re-acquainted with poetry, and Larkins snarkiness, depression and bouts of deep humanity (but not too much of it) were right up my alley.
Farren
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Nikki
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
brian
Sep 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
best poet of the twentieth century? easy. just read Aubade and try and dispute that fact. or The Old Fools. goddamn. "Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth." yes, indeed.
Anima
May 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing

An Arundel Tomb
"...
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only an attitude remains:

Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone finality
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love."

Whatever Happened?

"At once whatever happened starts receding.
Panting, and back on board, we line the rail
With trousers ripped, light wallets, and lips
...more
Nick Scandy
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Life is an immobile, locked,
Three-handed struggle between
Your wants, the world's for you, and (worse)
The unbeatable slow machine
That brings what you'll get. Blocked,
They strain round a hollow stasis
Of havings-to, fear, faces.
Days sift down it constantly. Years.
ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos)
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
...more
Brooke
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Kiof
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
...more
Brooke
Mar 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Miriam Cihodariu
Jul 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, poetry
His poems were more or less what I expected - lacking pretense or overly flourishing decorations of style, and more or less up-to-the-point, in-your-face, matter-of-factly etc. That's usually up me alley, since I developed quite an allergy for pretense. If you're familiar with his famous verses "They fuck you up, your mom and dad", you can bet the rest of his poems are mostly in the same style.

Still, what kept me from giving the book 5 stars, and what makes Larkin's poetry a little off for me,
...more
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
...more
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499 followers
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 ...more
“Uncontradicting solitude
Supports me on its giant palm;
And like a sea-anemone
Or simple snail, there cautiously
Unfolds, emerges, what I am.”
69 likes
“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 thing
Not at all hard to understand.

Then, after twenty, it became
At once more difficult to get
And more desired -- though all the same
More undesirable; for what
You are alone has, to achieve
The rank of fact, to be expressed
In terms of others, or it's just
A compensating make-believe.

Much better stay in company!
To love you must have someone else,
Giving requires a legatee,
Good neighbours need whole parishfuls
Of folk to do it on -- in short,
Our virtues are all social; if,
Deprived of solitude, you chafe,
It's clear you're not the virtuous sort.

Viciously, then, I lock my door.
The gas-fire breathes. The wind outside
Ushers in evening rain. Once more
Uncontradicting solitude
Supports me on its giant palm;
And like a sea-anemone
Or simple snail, there cautiously
Unfolds, emerges, what I am."

(Best Company)”
24 likes
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