Tuesday, 14 April 2015

L is for Leave...and Luck...and Legend...and Larkin

Larkin, Philip (1922-1985) 

Philip Larkin was a British poet, achieving critical acclaim and popularity among the general readers on the back of rather a small body of work. His very famous poem This be the Verse is my prompt for this post, though really his Aubade is also my favourite.  

After his death, there was controversy over whether Larkin was obsessed with pornography, held extremely right wing views and/or a racist.  He may or may not have been a nasty piece of work, but his poetry is gorgeous.  

Please be aware that Larkin used profanity in his poetry, and both the prompt and the response here contain it, so if you find that offensive, please stop reading now.


This be the thing, the only thing –
there are more ways to get fucked up
than some odd quirk of parenting
the absence or presence of love.

Man can hand down miseries or joys -
easiest always to be mindless -
but what you pick up is your choice.
Refuse the crap; choose happiness.

It’s simple really, nothing deep
no shelf involved, nor continent -
Man still has some tricks up his sleeve:
free will, and grit. Reasoned consent.

L is for Leave and Luck. And Bengalis today leave behind the old year and start a new one.  The Bengali calendar is a Luni-solar one based on the ancient Vedic calendar which dates back around 5000 years. So I am Lucky, I get to celebrate three different New Years in the span of 365 days - the Gregorian, Bengali and the Islamic.

Do you find poetry punched with expletives offensive? Or is it easier to relate to than the fancypants, so called poetic words? Do you agree that we can rise above our inherited sorrows?  Is Man free to choose happiness?

And I can't end this post without mentioning the Legendary Gunter Grass, a Nobel Laureate in Literature, who died yesterday in Lubeck. Respect.

Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2015


  1. No I don't find some expletives bothersome in poetry, they are just words after all, but if they are derogatory towards females, then I usually do find those ones offensive. I've read Ginsberg, and others of the Beat poets, and I've read a bit of eastern poetry (in younger days). I don't like the fussy poetry as much as the words that come from the heart and soul. I like Kipling, and Thoreau.

  2. This is one of my favourite Larkin poems too. Such a talented poet regardless of how questionable he may have been as a human being.

    No, I don't find expletives in poetry offensive. A person would have to shut the door on so many amazing poems if they couldn't accommodate expletives, and that's not something I'm prepared to do. It's all about context, isn't it?

  3. It doesn't bother me. Sometimes it takes a strong word to get a point across.
    Three New Year's? Lucky you indeed!

  4. Thank you for warning us to stop if profanity bothered us. I appreciate the thoughtfulness. :) Stopping by from the A to Z Challenge! Aidyl@Noveltea

  5. Considering all the profanity in movies, that poem was quite mild.

  6. Good piece, passing by on my own AtoZ journey, good luck with yours

  7. Hi Nila - you've covered a great deal here .. I don't mind profanity - sometimes it's in the right place, and reflects the right time ...

    3 New Years .. that's a lot for one year!! But lovely to be a part of those traditions ... cheers Hilary

  8. I don't mind expletives in poetry. If the emotion of the poet writing is that strong, he/she should use whatever word is appropriate, expletive or not.

    I LOVED your response to Larkin's poem prompt. You have great talent. Sorry I haven't been back as much as I'd hoped, but will try more often during the challenge. Hugs, Eva


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