ubc english student's association

Adventures in Literature: Philip Larkin

We are pleased to introduce our newest blogger: Callie Hitchcock. 

“Hello everyone my name is Callie and I am pleased to be a new blogger for ESA! I am currently undergoing my third year of an English Literature major with a Creative Writing minor, and I have always loved to read and discover new poetry.”

Philip Larkin creeps up on you. The Collected Poems sits quietly on your shelf for a while. Its soft beige cover doesn’t shout at you when you go about your day. Sooner or later you become drawn to its seeming simplicity. When you open it up you see short poems and think you are in store for some easy, palatable, poems about home or nature. But Larkin turns out to be deceivingly simple. His brevity holds his poetic genius tight and never lets go.

Philip Larkin lines Collected Poems with brilliant and quiet truths. He blends the themes of time and relationships with a disconsolate yet searching tone. Poem’s like “Talking in Bed” and “Love Again” explore the frustrating yet inevitable aspects of relationships with a firm but gentle grip.

It becomes still more difficult to find

Words at once true and kind,

Or not untrue and not unkind.

-“Talking in Bed”

The loss of time and nostalgia are also expertly dealt with throughout the collection. He uses straightforward language to craft expert metaphors and weave a web of interlocked emotions. His personifications leap off the page and sit next to you on the couch like a beloved pet.

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,

Shaped to the comfort of the last to go

As if to win them back


His tone can be wry and boyish, but is never simplistic. He writes heart-breaking stories and instead of leaving you with a saccharine hopeful ending, he leaves you with a stillness and a solitude that keeps you coming back time after time. Philip Larkin embodies a serenity that doesn’t involve getting out your yoga pants or looking up color auras. He offers a realistic look at what the world has to offer and slowly sweeps over the range of human experiences with an expert poetic brush.


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