ARTICLE| Learning bluntness from Larkin

Philip Larkin is one of my favourite poets. Granted he doesn’t have the earthy sensuality of Pablo Neruda’s work or lyrical perfection of Wordsworth

I believe his work found me, in English Lit class both in secondary school in Nigeria and during my A-levels in England. I studied a number of his poems from Arundel Tomb to The Whitsun Weddings. Larkins style is candid to the point of awkwardness – he tells it like it is with a dollop of cynicism whacked on for good measure .He is the sort of poet that non-poetry lovers enjoy because he’s neither flowery nor complicated and also the type of poet revered by poetry lovers because his form and style are sound and his work respects tradition. His poems are just easy to relate to.

For example Philip Larkin’s poem ‘This be the verse’ starts like this

‘They f** k 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’

Whether its exposing the superficial nature of advertisments in ‘Sunny Prestatyn’ or ranting about the pressure to conform to societal expectations regarding marriage and procreation in Dockery & Son, Larkin is always brashly honest.

There are many things that I wish I’d had the balls to say and never did because I wanted to be graceful and diplomatic- avoid rubbing people up the wrong way. Sometimes that’s a good thing and other times I really regret not kicking tact to the curb and brazenly taking the low road.

Imagine the chaos if we didn’t all pick our battles and let some things slide?! Though, when for example you let a friend get away with being a douchebag/taking advantage of your generosity for so long that when you eventually start speaking up, they make you seem like the douchebag, you can’t help but be riled.

The thing is, relationships- in their copious forms, wouldn’t exist if we were always honest, all the time. Our honest words may not even be the truth. Nevertheless, they are our truth at the moment in time.

How do you balance being blunt when something needs to be addressed with keeping the peace? If you’ve mastered the formula, please let me know!

Ill retire with a gorgeous poem for you to read Pablo Neruda’s “And because Love battles”


2 thoughts on “ARTICLE| Learning bluntness from Larkin

  1. Hello!

    I’m Chloe from Singapore, chanced upon your blog while writing on a Larkin essay for school exams coming up next week (A Levels!). Just wanted to say your writing is really easy on the eyes and fun to read I am going to scroll through your posts as I try not to panic for the papers to come (really I should be studying)

    I wonder if you’ll actually reply to my comment here, I would use the About Page but well Larkin brought me here after all and being the stereotypical Asian student I am not very good at proper self-introductions.

    Anyhow, back to the “toad work”

    1. Hi Chloe, Aren’t I lucky Larkin brought you here. Your comment made me smile! Thanks for the lovely compliments. I wish you the very best with your exams (and that Larkin essay)! Its good to take a cheeky break from the toad work once in a while – I wont tell anyone I promise ;)

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