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Collected Poems Paperback – April 1, 2004
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From Library Journal
- 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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
The earlier edition was more comprehensive, including many poems unpublished during Larkin's life. Some of those unpublished poems were inferior to Larkin's previously published work; perhaps half of them were not.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.
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The editor left out a poem I greatly admire and was hoping to find.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Recently, my grandson, a senior in college and a double major--one of which is English--recommended this poet to me. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Kindle Customer
Philip Larkin is an one of those poets you stumble across and you have to have more. You get tangled in his poems and than you want to know who he is. Both collide in this book. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Amy Lowell