Larkin and Stevenson

This Be the Verse (1971)
Philip Larkin

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.

*******************************

The title is taken from Robert Louis Stevenson’s
self-composed epitaph:

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.

On Epitaphic Fictions: Robert Louis Stevenson, Philip Larkin, by Daniel Bosch (Paris Review).

    • Bernard By The Burn
    • May 7th, 2014

    Hiya Andy,

    Thank’s for two well-chosen poems.

    Neither of them is top ten, but both are less than twenty.

    Bernard

    By the Burn

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