Submit Your Poems
Get Your Premium Membership

CreationEarth Nature Photos

Best Famous Philip Larkin Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Philip Larkin poems. This is a select list of the best famous Philip Larkin poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Philip Larkin poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Philip Larkin poems.

Search for the best famous Philip Larkin poems, articles about Philip Larkin poems, poetry blogs, or anything else Philip Larkin poem related using the PoetrySoup search engine at the top of the page.

See also:

Famous poems below this ad
Written by Philip Larkin |

I Remember I Remember

 Coming up England by a different line
For once, early in the cold new year,
We stopped, and, watching men with number plates
Sprint down the platform to familiar gates,
'Why, Coventry!' I exclaimed.
'I was born here.
' I leant far out, and squinnied for a sign That this was still the town that had been 'mine' So long, but found I wasn't even clear Which side was which.
From where those cycle-crates Were standing, had we annually departed For all those family hols? .
A whistle went: Things moved.
I sat back, staring at my boots.
'Was that,' my friend smiled, 'where you "have your roots"?' No, only where my childhood was unspent, I wanted to retort, just where I started: By now I've got the whole place clearly charted.
Our garden, first: where I did not invent Blinding theologies of flowers and fruits, And wasn't spoken to by an old hat.
And here we have that splendid family I never ran to when I got depressed, The boys all biceps and the girls all chest, Their comic Ford, their farm where I could be 'Really myself'.
I'll show you, come to that, The bracken where I never trembling sat, Determined to go through with it; where she Lay back, and 'all became a burning mist'.
And, in those offices, my doggerel Was not set up in blunt ten-point, nor read By a distinguished cousin of the mayor, Who didn't call and tell my father There Before us, had we the gift to see ahead - 'You look as though you wished the place in Hell,' My friend said, 'judging from your face.
' 'Oh well, I suppose it's not the place's fault,' I said.
'Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.

Written by Philip Larkin |

Church Going

Once i am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting seats and stone and little books; sprawlings of flowers cut For Sunday brownish now; some brass and stuff Up at the holy end; the small neat organ; And a tense musty unignorable silence Brewed God knows how long.
Hatless I take off My cylce-clips in awkward revrence Move forward run my hand around the font.
From where i stand the roof looks almost new-- Cleaned or restored? someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern I peruse a few hectoring large-scale verses and pronouce Here endeth much more loudly than I'd meant The echoes snigger briefly.
Back at the door I sign the book donate an Irish sixpence Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.
Yet stop I did: in fact I often do And always end much at a loss like this Wondering what to look for; wondering too When churches fall completely out of use What we shall turn them into if we shall keep A few cathedrals chronically on show Their parchment plate and pyx in locked cases And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places? Or after dark will dubious women come To make their children touvh a particular stone; Pick simples for a cancer; or on some Advised night see walking a dead one? Power of some sort or other will go on In games in riddles seemingly at random; But superstition like belief must die And what remains when disbelief has gone? Grass weedy pavement brambles butress sky.
A shape less recognisable each week A purpose more obscure.
I wonder who Will be the last the very last to seek This place for whta it was; one of the crew That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were? Some ruin-bibber randy for antique Or Christmas-addict counting on a whiff Of grown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh? Or will he be my representative Bored uninformed knowing the ghostly silt Dispersed yet tending to this cross of ground Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt So long and equably what since is found Only in separation--marriage and birth And death and thoughts of these--for which was built This special shell? For though I've no idea What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth It pleases me to stand in silence here; A serious house on serious earth it is In whose blent air all our compulsions meet Are recognisd and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete Since someone will forever be surprising A hunger in himself to be more serious And gravitating with it to this ground Which he once heard was proper to grow wise in If only that so many dead lie round.

Written by Philip Larkin |


 I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there: Unresting death, a whole day nearer now, Making all thought impossible but how And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread Of dying, and being dead, Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare.
Not in remorse -- The good not done, the love not given, time Torn off unused -- nor wretchedly because An only life can take so long to climb Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never; But at the total emptiness for ever, The sure extinction that we travel to And shall be lost in always.
Not to be here, Not to be anywhere, And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.
This is a special way of being afraid No trick dispels.
Religion used to try, That vast moth-eaten musical brocade Created to pretend we never die, And specious stuff that says No rational being Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing That this is what we fear -- no sight, no sound, No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with, Nothing to love or link with, The anaesthetic from which none come round.
And so it stays just on the edge of vision, A small unfocused blur, a standing chill That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will, And realisation of it rages out In furnace-fear when we are caught without People or drink.
Courage is no good: It means not scaring others.
Being brave Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.
Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know, Have always known, know that we can't escape, Yet can't accept.
One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

More great poems below...

Written by Philip Larkin |


Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park 
The crowns of hats the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops the bleached 
Established names on the sunblinds 
The farthings and sovereigns 
Adn dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens 
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist and the pubs
Wide open all day;

And the countryside ont caring:
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat's restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses 
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence 
Never before or since 
As changed itself to past
Without a word--the men
Leaving the gardens tidy 
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a littlewhile longer:
Never such innocence again.

Written by Philip Larkin |

Like The Trains Beat

 Like the train's beat
Swift language flutters the lips
Of the Polish airgirl in the corner seat,
The swinging and narrowing sun
Lights her eyelashes, shapes
Her sharp vivacity of bone.
Hair, wild and controlled, runs back: And gestures like these English oaks Flash past the windows of her foreign talk.
The train runs on through wilderness Of cities.
Still the hammered miles Diversify behind her face.
And all humanity of interest Before her angled beauty falls, As whorling notes are pressed In a bird's throat, issuing meaningless Through written skies; a voice Watering a stony place.

Written by Philip Larkin |

Talking in Bed

Talking in bed ought ot be easiest 
Lying together there goes back so far 
An emblem of two people being honest.
Yet more and more time passes silently.
Outside the wind's incomplete unrest builds and disperses clouds about the sky.
And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us.
Nothing shows why At this unique distance from isolation It becomes still more difficult to find Words at once true and kind Or ont untrue and not unkind.

Written by Philip Larkin |


 In this dream that dogs me I am part
Of a silent crowd walking under a wall,
Leaving a football match, perhaps, or a pit,
All moving the same way.
After a while A second wall closes on our right, Pressing us tighter.
We are now shut in Like pigs down a concrete passage.
When I lift My head, I see the walls have killed the sun, And light is cold.
Now a giant whitewashed D Comes on the second wall, but much too high For them to recognise: I await the E, Watch it approach and pass.
By now We have ceased walking and travel Like water through sewers, steeply, despite The tread that goes on ringing like an anvil Under the striding A.
I crook My arm to shield my face, for we must pass Beneath the huge, decapitated cross, White on the wall, the T, and I cannot halt The tread, the beat of it, it is my own heart, The walls of my room rise, it is still night, I have woken again before the word was spelt.

Written by Philip Larkin |

The North Ship


I saw three ships go sailing by,
Over the sea, the lifting sea,
And the wind rose in the morning sky,
And one was rigged for a long journey.
The first ship turned towards the west, Over the sea, the running sea, And by the wind was all possessed And carried to a rich country.
The second ship turned towards the east, Over the sea, the quaking sea, And the wind hunted it like a beast To anchor in captivity.
The third ship drove towards the north, Over the sea, the darkening sea, But no breath of wind came forth, And the decks shone frostily.
The northern sky rose high and black Over the proud unfruitful sea, East and west the ships came back Happily or unhappily: But the third went wide and far Into an unforgiving sea Under a fire-spilling star, And it was rigged for a long journey.

Written by Philip Larkin |


 Strange to know nothing, never to be sure
Of what is true or right or real,
But forced to qualify or so I feel,
Or Well, it does seem so:
Someone must know.
Strange to be ignorant of the way things work: Their skill at finding what they need, Their sense of shape, and punctual spread of seed, And willingness to change; Yes, it is strange, Even to wear such knowledge - for our flesh Surrounds us with its own decisions - And yet spend all our life on imprecisions, That when we start to die Have no idea why.

Written by Philip Larkin |

Faith Healing

 Slowly the women file to where he stands
Upright in rimless glasses, silver hair,
Dark suit, white collar.
Stewards tirelessly Persuade them onwards to his voice and hands, Within whose warm spring rain of loving care Each dwells some twenty seconds.
Now, dear child, What's wrong, the deep American voice demands, And, scarcely pausing, goes into a prayer Directing God about this eye, that knee.
Their heads are clasped abruptly; then, exiled Like losing thoughts, they go in silence; some Sheepishly stray, not back into their lives Just yet; but some stay stiff, twitching and loud With deep hoarse tears, as if a kind of dumb And idiot child within them still survives To re-awake at kindness, thinking a voice At last calls them alone, that hands have come To lift and lighten; and such joy arrives Their thick tongues blort, their eyes squeeze grief, a crowd Of huge unheard answers jam and rejoice - What's wrong! Moustached in flowered frocks they shake: By now, all's wrong.
In everyone there sleeps A sense of life lived according to love.
To some it means the difference they could make By loving others, but across most it sweeps As all they might have done had they been loved.
That nothing cures.
An immense slackening ache, As when, thawing, the rigid landscape weeps, Spreads slowly through them - that, and the voice above Saying Dear child, and all time has disproved.

Written by Philip Larkin |

A Study Of Reading Habits

 When getting my nose in a book
Cured most things short of school,
It was worth ruining my eyes
To know I could still keep cool,
And deal out the old right hook
To dirty dogs twice my size.
Later, with inch-thick specs, Evil was just my lark: Me and my coat and fangs Had ripping times in the dark.
The women I clubbed with sex! I broke them up like meringues.
Don't read much now: the dude Who lets the girl down before The hero arrives, the chap Who's yellow and keeps the store Seem far too familiar.
Get stewed: Books are a load of crap.

Written by Philip Larkin |


 A stationary sense.
as, I suppose, I shall have, till my single body grows Inaccurate, tired; Then I shall start to feel the backward pull Take over, sickening and masterful - Some say, desired.
And this must be the prime of life.
I blink, As if at pain; for it is pain, to think This pantomime Of compensating act and counter-act Defeat and counterfeit, makes up, in fact My ablest time.

Written by Philip Larkin |

Lines On A Young Ladys Photograph Album

 At last you yielded up the album, which
Once open, sent me distracted.
All your ages Matt and glossy on the thick black pages! Too much confectionery, too rich: I choke on such nutritious images.
My swivel eye hungers from pose to pose -- In pigtails, clutching a reluctant cat; Or furred yourself, a sweet girl-graduate; Or lifting a heavy-headed rose Beneath a trellis, or in a trilby-hat (Faintly disturbing, that, in several ways) -- From every side you strike at my control, Not least through those these disquieting chaps who loll At ease about your earlier days: Not quite your class, I'd say, dear, on the whole.
But o, photography! as no art is, Faithful and disappointing! that records Dull days as dull, and hold-it smiles as frauds, And will not censor blemishes Like washing-lines, and Hall's-Distemper boards, But shows a cat as disinclined, and shades A chin as doubled when it is, what grace Your candour thus confers upon her face! How overwhelmingly persuades That this is a real girl in a real place, In every sense empirically true! Or is it just the past? Those flowers, that gate, These misty parks and motors, lacerate Simply by being you; you Contract my heart by looking out of date.
Yes, true; but in the end, surely, we cry Not only at exclusion, but because It leaves us free to cry.
We know what was Won't call on us to justify Our grief, however hard we yowl across The gap from eye to page.
So I am left To mourn (without a chance of consequence) You, balanced on a bike against a fence; To wonder if you'd spot the theft Of this one of you bathing; to condense, In short, a past that no one now can share, No matter whose your future; calm and dry, It holds you like a heaven, and you lie Unvariably lovely there, Smaller and clearer as the years go by.

Written by Philip Larkin |

When First We Faced And Touching Showed

 When first we faced, and touching showed
How well we knew the early moves,
Behind the moonlight and the frost,
The excitement and the gratitude,
There stood how much our meeting owed
To other meetings, other loves.
The decades of a different life That opened past your inch-close eyes Belonged to others, lavished, lost; Nor could I hold you hard enough To call my years of hunger-strife Back for your mouth to colonise.
Admitted: and the pain is real.
But when did love not try to change The world back to itself--no cost, No past, no people else at all-- Only what meeting made us feel, So new, and gentle-sharp, and strange?

Written by Philip Larkin |

To Failure

 You do not come dramatically, with dragons
That rear up with my life between their paws
And dash me butchered down beside the wagons,
The horses panicking; nor as a clause
Clearly set out to warn what can be lost,
What out-of-pocket charges must be borne
Expenses met; nor as a draughty ghost
That's seen, some mornings, running down a lawn.
It is these sunless afternoons, I find Install you at my elbow like a bore The chestnut trees are caked with silence.
I'm Aware the days pass quicker than before, Smell staler too.
And once they fall behind They look like ruin.
You have been here some time.