This Be The Verse By Philip Larkin Essay

This Be the Verse by Philip Larkin They *censored* 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 *censored*ed up in their turn By
fools in old-style hats and coats, Who half the time were sloppy-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. Lately, I
have read a good deal of poems by Philip Larkin, and one unifying factor that I
have noticed is that Larkin never seems to use a filler. Every word in every one
of his poems seems to be carefully crafted and placed, to the point where the
flow and rhythm of the poem seem almost an accident. One poem I read that really
stayed with me is the above poem, “This be the Verse.” I will now show
you how this poem, which at first glance seems to be written only to amuse,
really has a much deeper meaning. I will examine the poem in several parts.

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First, I would like to examine the use of curse words in the poem, or why other
words that would be considered more acceptable to the general public were not
used. Then, I will discuss the three stanzas of the poem and what they were
meant to do for the audience. Lastly, I will explore why Larkin would write such
a poem, and what he was trying to get across to his audience by writing it. The
second line in this poem contains the word “*censored*,” a word that
is usually not considered acceptable for the general public. Yet Larkin
incorporates it almost immediately into his poem. I can think of four possible
reasons why. Firstly, words such as *censored* quickly and easily grab the
audiences attention. This is similar to yelling “sex” in a crowded
marketplace, everyone wants to know what is being discussed. Also, words like
*censored* prepare the audience for a humorous bit of poetry, and this perks the
audience’s attention, and lets them know off the bat that this will not be
another long and boring verse. Secondly, words such as *censored* produce an
atmosphere for adults, or mature people. One term that is used quite extensively
lately is “adult language.” This term branches off of the common idea
that children should and would not use such words until they are older and have
a more concrete knowledge of what they are really saying. Thus, by using a word
such as *censored*, Larkin creates a poem that will most likely not be read to
children. Also, such a poem would not be read at certain social gatherings (i.e.

church meetings) where such words are considered unacceptable, further narrowing
the audience for this poem. That brings me to my third point: that the people
who read such a poem know, whether consciously or not, that they are in a
distinct group, and that this poem was written for them. This allows Larkin to
establish a closeness with his readers, now that they know that he is writing
for them. This also implies to the reader that Larkin is one of them, that he
knows the reader well, because he is in the same social class. To sum it up, by
using a word considered to be socially incorrect, Larkin has managed to
establish more credibility with the reader, which inherently forces the reader
listen up, and pay attention to what Larkin has to say. Lately,
“modern” art and poetry are showing more and more
“unacceptable” words. This is because such words have become
synonymous with “truth.” In other words, the general public seems to
feel that if an artist is using curse words, then he must be “telling it
like it is.” Thus, using such words helps Larkin’s credibility as a man who
has seen and will now tell. Larkin’s poem is divided into three stanzas, each
with it’s own meaning and objectives. The first stanza is the introduction. As
discussed above, the first stanza singles out a select group of people and
builds Larkin’s credibility with them. But beyond that, the first stanza also
inspires several other feeling in the reader, just from the actual words it
uses. The very first line, in fact, insults your own parents. Larkin did this in
order to provoke a slight feeling of anger, one which he will dispense soon
afterward. By the second line, Larkin has already started to divert the initial
blow to your parents, saying that it is not their fault for what they did to
you. By the third and forth line, the insult has been successfully shifted from
your parents to you, the reader. However, Larkin manages to shift not only the
insult, but that same feeling of anger toward the author, except that now the
anger is there because the author insulted you. In the second stanza, Larkin
again justifies why it is not your parents fault for what they did to you.

Instead, he shifts the blame to your grandparents. However, if this poem were
read by your parents, then the blame would be shifted back another generation.

And so on, until it is clear that the corruption of children has been going on
for ever, back to the first humans. On the other hand, should this poem be read
by your children, then it would once again be your parents fault. And so on,
into infinity, it is everyone’s fault, for somewhere there will be someone to
blame their faults on you. The last two lines of the second stanza describe how
the readers grandparents (or whomever the blame is being shifted on) went about
“*censored*ing you up.” However, the description that Larkin uses is a
very typical description of what is considered a modern household, again
implying that nothing is anyone’s fault, but that we are all contributing to
“*censored*ing up” of the world. The third stanza presents the problem
in it’s simplest form, and then provides the solution to the problem. The
problem is stated on the first line, and the second line emphasizes the fact
that this is a growing problem that seemingly can’t be stopped. The last two
lines of the poem then provide the solution: to stop reproducing. This is where
Larkin says to the world that there is no way out of this problem. That the
human race will either have to cease to exist, or simply live with all of it’s
problems. Like all of his poems, Larkin wrote “This be the Verse” with
very careful planning and word placement. And even though this is a funny poem,
it has a very deep message to share with the world. Everyone knows that the
world is full of problems, and that hundreds of organizations are trying hard to
fix all of the problems in order to make our lives better. However, as
demonstrated in the poem, we can never absolve all our problems because we keep
handing all of our flaws on to posterity. Thus, the human race will forever have
problems, and although we work hard to decrease some, we will always have new
problems, and there will never be a completely happy world. And this lesson can
be applied to a smaller environment as well. All the way through a country’s
internal problems, a city’s problems, a family’s problems and the problems one
has with oneself. No one can ever lead a perfectly happy life. There will always
be problems to overcome.

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