Philip Arthur Larkin (1922 – 1985) was een Engels dichter, schrijver en jazz criticus. Hij verdiende zijn brood als bibliothecaris aan een Engelse Universiteit. Later werd hij professor aan de Universiteit van Hull.
Hij is een van de grote, bekende Engelstalige dichters van de tweede helft van de 20e eeuw. Conservatief, gloomy, zwarte humor en een obsessie voor dood en het negatieve in de mens. Hieronder zijn bekendste gedicht - en een van de mooiste.
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.
Eerste publicatie: Augustus 1971 in the New Humanist en later opgenomen in de bundel High Windows uit 1974.
Larkin de mensenhater
Larkin's poems cultivate solitude, withdrawal, "the wish to be alone". His persona is that of an awkward bachelor, too fond of his own company to crave other people's, too old (even when young) to take advantage of the sexual revolution, too conscious of "the sure extinction we travel to" to have fun.
Even casual readers, let alone those who knew the man personally, must have realised this misanthropy was a performance – a poet playing at being his gloomiest self.
Still, few were prepared for the picture of Larkin that emerged in his Selected Letters, edited by Anthony Thwaite in 1992, and in Andrew Motion's biography the following year.
It wasn't just the number of women he was involved with that came as a shock (at one point, towards the end of his life, three at once), but the illiberal views privately expressed to friends on everything from immigration to the awfulness of children.
"I can't believe I am so much more unpleasant than everyone else," Larkin wrote, but in bleak moments he did believe it and after the biography and letters even former admirers started believing it too.
James Booth in The Guardian, 22 augustus 2014.