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Collected Poems Paperback – April 1, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Thwaite has gathered all the poems Larkin wrote between 1946 and 1985, the year of his death; he also includes a generous selection of work written earlier, before Larkin found his characteristic voice. In all, there are some 240 poems, 83 of them never published before. The unpublished work comes from every period of Larkin's career and increases by half the number of poems in his canon. The poet we now have is considerably more prolific than the one who issued only three small, mature collections in his lifetime. With or without the new poems, Larkin is a major postwar British writer, and this is the best available collection of his poetry. An essential addition to both academic and general libraries.
- Michael Hennessy, Southwest Texas State Univ., San Marcos
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“More often than any other English poet since the war, Larkin gave us lines that it is unlikely we'll be able to forget.” ―Ian Hamilton, The Times (London)

“Larkin is resolute, forthright, witty, and gloomy. This is the man who famously said that deprivation was for him what daffodils were for Wordsworth. Yet surely the results of this life, in the shape of his poems, are gifts, not deprivations.” ―Donald Hall, The New Criterion


Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; American ed edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374529205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374529208
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In five years, nine Larkinites have posted reviews to these pages. One laments the death of poetry's ability to move the masses, laments the lost world in which poetry was a master art, in which Longfellow might hold a theater in thrall with tales of Gitchee Gumee.
Why doesn't everyone who reads in the English Language know Philip Larkin?
Oh, this Larkin is most assuredly not for every taste--he is ugly, rueful, bitter, timorous, and in these he is wholly and perfectly one with his poetic voice. He is a formalist--a large quantity of rhymed iambic pentameter at a time when most "poetry" is indistinguishable from prose except in the way the lines are arranged--who sounds, miraculously, astonishingly, colloquial (the particular mark of his genius). Many of these poems attain a perfection--Aubade, High Windows, This Be The Verse, others, all relatively well known--that literally staggers the imagination. As with the (classic) jazz to which Larkin was so devoted, in which the players continually found "new" notes to blow, and even created new musical vocabularies when the old ones were exhausted, Larkin finds boundless new resources inside the English language and then bursts poetry's integument asunder when his straightlaced, albeit eccentric, formalism seems to hem him in.
Unlike most contemporary poets, Larkin creates lines you remember--indeed, cannot shake--and want to memorize for the delight, and mortification, of self and friends.
Larkin does not, by the bye, deal in any manner of obscurantism. What he means is clearly on the page. It may not leave you in the sunniest of dispositions, but it will lift you, powerfully, to another level of poetic appreciation.
This is a book for life by the major voice of my time.
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Format: Paperback
As often happens, Amazon's practice of cross-posting reviews and information specific to _one_ edition of a book on all the webpages for _all_ of that book's editions causes confusion. There are in fact significant differences between the 2004 paperback edition of this superb poet's collected work and the earlier edition of 1989/1993 (hardcover/paperback). Each edition has its merits.

The earlier edition was more comprehensive, including many poems unpublished during Larkin's life. Some of those unpublished poems were inferior to Larkin's previously published work; perhaps half of them were not. (Many of the unpublished poems' states of completion are difficult to determine, a fact acknowledged by the editor.) The poems in the earlier edition are sequenced chronologically in two sections, a primary section of poems written after Larkin began publishing, followed by a smaller section of early poems.

The newer edition eliminates many of the less satisfying of the poems unpublished by Larkin. Strikingly, the newer edition also has been rearranged to reflect the orderings Larkin chose for his few collections. (Notes in the back of the older edition listed by title the order of poems in each prior collection.) These changes make the newer volume better for the casual reader of Larkin, but less useful for the student.
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Format: Paperback
Philip Larkin once remarked that he felt the poet should take the reader by the hand and lead them right into the poem. Maybe that is just another way of saying that his poems are accessible and will touch you even when reading them for the first time.
Yes, Larkin does embody the somewhat grumpy spirit of post-war Britain, but like all good poetry they are about the something that seems to be missing in our lives. There are some feelings no writer has ever put more precisely. Formally rather conservative (rhyme, no daring metaphors), the vocabulary is utterly down to earth. "Talking in bed should be easiest," Larkin begins, only to find out that with the lengthening of the silence "It becomes stil more difficult to find / Words at once true and kind, / Or not untrue and not unkind."
The feelings expressed may not always be nice, nor is this much of a self-help book, so it is utterly opposed to the spirit of our times, but this "old-type natural fouled up-guy" will make you love poetry if you are not yet sure about whether your do ("to prove our almost-instinct almost true: / What will survive of us is love.") Get this European poet looking at himself as if he were a complete stranger as a contrast to you confessional poets!
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By A Customer on November 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
Larkin frequently adopts the persona of the very ordinary man in the street to explore his themes. As a consequence, his poetic language is that of the public bar rather than the literary salon; it is derived from Anglo-Saxon, not Latin or Greek. He is not, for example, averse to using expletives such as "crap" or the "f-word" when moved to despair or fury. The adopted, (or is it Larkin himself?) down-to-earth voice has a colloquially dismissive tone to it, his cyclist in "Church Going", for example, refers to the altar being, "up at the holy end", as he wanders about the building, "bored and uninformed", observing the, "brass and stuff." Equally, in "Poetry of departures", he refers to an acquaintance who has abandoned the conventional life as having, "chucked up everything and just cleared off". This is a man with an educational deficit, who thinks, "books are a load of crap" ("A study of reading habits"), while at the same time, and somewhat slyly, making it clear that he is aware of the existence of words such as "pyx" and "rood lofts," even if he doesn't know the precise meaning of them. However, the reader is only temporarily fooled by this apparent simple-mindedness. Larkin's man in the street is quite capable of profound thought, as is made abundantly clear in the final stanzas. The poems move from a flippant start toward an unanticipated gravitas, where weighty matters are analysed and ex cathedra pronouncements uttered. Larkin's longer poems move, in a tightly controlled manner, toward that cerebral ending.Read more ›
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