The Complete Poems

Overview

This entirely new edition brings together all of Philip Larkin’s poems. In addition to those that appear in Collected Poems (1988) and Early Poems and Juvenilia (2005), some unpublished pieces from Larkin’s typescripts and workbooks are included, as well as verse—by turns scurrilous, satirical, affectionate, and sentimental—that had been tucked away in his letters. 

For the first time, Larkin’s poems are given a comprehensive commentary. This draws ...

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Overview

This entirely new edition brings together all of Philip Larkin’s poems. In addition to those that appear in Collected Poems (1988) and Early Poems and Juvenilia (2005), some unpublished pieces from Larkin’s typescripts and workbooks are included, as well as verse—by turns scurrilous, satirical, affectionate, and sentimental—that had been tucked away in his letters. 

For the first time, Larkin’s poems are given a comprehensive commentary. This draws critically upon, and substantially extends, the accumulated scholarship on Larkin, and covers closely relevant historical contexts, persons and places, allusions and echoes, and linguistic usage. Prominence is given to the poet’s comments on his own poems, which often outline the circumstances that gave rise to a poem or state what he was trying to achieve. Larkin often played down his literariness, but his poetry enrichingly alludes to and echoes the writings of many others; Archie Burnett’s commentary establishes him as a more complex and more literary poet than many readers have suspected.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The poems of British master Philip Larkin (1922–1985), one of the great mid-century poets in English, have had a frustrating life since the death of their author: this is the third book of Larkin poems bearing the word Collected or Complete in their titles. The first Collected was an edition edited by Anthony Thwaite containing poems Larkin published during his lifetime as well as uncollected and unpublished work, all of its arranged in chronological order, dispensing with Larkin’s own arrangement of his poems in his published books. The second Collected redressed this omission by publishing only those poems Larkin collected in the four volumes of poetry—The North Ship; The Less Deceived; The Whitsun Weddings; and the famous High Windows—as arranged in those original volumes. This third edition contains all the poems included in the previous volumes plus poems from Early Poems and Juvenilia as well as other scattered poems not previously published. Burnett also includes comprehensive notes. Larkin was a master versifier, but within strict meter and rhyme he could be both disarmingly casual and utterly precise, the only poet capable of turning a kind of grumpiness into transcendent truth telling: “Death,” he notes, “is no different whined at than withstood.” This will be an essential book for poetry lovers. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

Praise for The Complete Poems:

“[The Complete Poems] is a must-have for anyone who enjoys Larkin . . . Burnett’s notes offer a fascinating, compendious vade mecum into Larkin’s poetic world. Full of reassuring exactitude about variants, and extensive reference to the poet’s own comments on the work, they are most stimulating of all when they cite buried sources . . . A lot of thought as well as an enormous amount of research has clearly gone into this [volume].” —Fiona Sampson, The Independent

“[Archie] Burnett presents a very different picture of Larkin from the one by which he came to be known; one that is far more literary, and occasionally far more amusing. A reader can now trace Larkin’s development from his allusive [early efforts] . . . to his more mature, better-known works.” —The Economist

“Apart from representing an unprecedented Larkin poetic storehouse, the other glory of The Complete Poems is Burnett’s dazzlingly detailed commentary . . . One of the chief pleasures . . . is tracing the emergence of one of English poetry’s most distinctive poetic voices . . . A landmark volume, a wonder-book of verse by one of the art form’s best practitioners of the last hundred years.” —Terry Kelly, The London Magazine

Praise for Philip Larkin:

“More often than any other English poet since the war, Larkin gave us lines that it is unlikely we’ll be able to forget.” Ian Hamilton, The Times (London)

“Larkin is resolute, forthright, witty, and gloomy. This is the man who famously said that deprivation was for him what daffodils were for Wordsworth. Yet surely the results of this life, in the shape of his poems, are gifts, not deprivations.” Donald Hall, The New Criterion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374126964
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 3/27/2012
  • Pages: 768
  • Sales rank: 1,423,939
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Larkin was born in 1922 and grew up in Coventry, England. In 1955 he became librarian of the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull, a post he held until his death in 1985. He was the best-loved poet of his generation and the recipient of innumerable honors, including the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and the W. H. Smith Award.

Archie Burnett is co-director (with Christopher Ricks) of the Editorial Institute and professor of English at Boston University. He has edited the Oxford editions of The Poems of A. E. Housman (1997) and The Letters of A. E. Housman (2007).

 

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii

Abbreviations Used ix

Introduction xiii

The Poems

The North Ship 3

The Less Deceived 25

The Whitsun Weddings 47

High Windows 73

Other Poems Published in the Poet's Lifetime 97

Poems Not Published in the Poet's Lifetime 123

Undated or Approximately Dated Poems 325

Commentary

The North Ship 333

The Less Deceived 353

The Whitsun Weddings 391

High Windows 441

Other Poems Published in the Poet's Lifetime 477

Poems Not Published in the Poet's Lifetime 509

Undated or Approximately Dated Poems 669

Appendices

I Larkin's Early Collections of His Poems 675

II Dates of Composition 687

Index of Titles and First Lines 707

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