Uploaded on Mar 25, 2011
Heres the celebrated English poet Philip Larkin reading what is probably his best loved poem "This Be The Verse" "This Be The Verse" is a lyric poem in three verses of four iambic tetrameter on an alternating rhyme scheme, by the English poet Philip Larkin (1922--1985). It was written around April 1971, first published in the August 1971 issue of New Humanist, and appeared in the 1974 collection High Windows.
This Be The Verse is perhaps Larkin's best known poem; its opening lines ("They fuck you up, your mum and dad") are almost certainly his most frequently quoted. Larkin himself compared it with W. B. Yeats's Lake Isle of Innisfree and said he expected to hear it recited in his honour by a thousand Girl Guides before he died. It appears in its entirety on more than a thousand web pages. It is frequently parodied. Television viewers in the United Kingdom voted it one of the "Nation's Top 100 Poems".
Another testament to the enduring appeal of Larkin's poem came in April 2009, when the first four lines of the poem were recited by a British appeal court judge as part of his judgement of a particularly acrimonious divorce case involving the future custody arrangements of a nine year old child. Lord Justice Wall referred to the emotional damage caused to the child, saying: "These four lines seem to me to give a clear warning to parents who, post-separation, continue to fight the battles of the past, and show each other no respect."
Indeed, it is quoted on occasions by people who do not know they are quoting Larkin. It is brief and memorable enough that many who read it are then able to recite it from memory, and do so to others, who also remember it and recite it again with minor variations. It has been heard on the lips of adolescents who do not know who Larkin was. As such, the poem shows signs of having entered the folklore process of oral tradition, and may be on its way to becoming an underground nursery rhyme of sorts, after the manner of Pounds, Shillings, and Pence.
The title of the poem is an allusion to Robert Louis Stevenson's Requiem, which also contains familiar lines:
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
Stevenson's thought of a happy homecoming in death is given an ironic turn.
The title also ironically recalls the recurring phrase in the Old Testament threatening the sins of the father against his sons: "for I the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me" [Exodus 20:5]. Larkin parodies the divine threat by rewriting the deliberate retribution of an angry vengeful God as the tragic shortcomings of "your mum and dad" (l. 1). This biblical allusion injects a homiletic quality into the unabashedly profane poem and hints at a certain awareness on Larkin's part that, of all his poems, this one will be the poem his readers will remember.
All rights are reserved on this video recording copyright Jim Clark 2011
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.
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