This Be the Verse by Philip Larkin They *censored* you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had Andadd some extra, just for you. But they were *censored*ed up in their turn Byfools in old-style hats and coats, Who half the time were sloppy-stern And halfat one another’s throats. Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastalshelf. Get out as early as you can, And don’t have any kids yourself. Lately, Ihave read a good deal of poems by Philip Larkin, and one unifying factor that Ihave noticed is that Larkin never seems to use a filler. Every word in every oneof his poems seems to be carefully crafted and placed, to the point where theflow and rhythm of the poem seem almost an accident. One poem I read that reallystayed with me is the above poem, “This be the Verse.
” I will now showyou how this poem, which at first glance seems to be written only to amuse,really has a much deeper meaning. I will examine the poem in several parts. First, I would like to examine the use of curse words in the poem, or why otherwords that would be considered more acceptable to the general public were notused. Then, I will discuss the three stanzas of the poem and what they weremeant to do for the audience. Lastly, I will explore why Larkin would write sucha poem, and what he was trying to get across to his audience by writing it. Thesecond line in this poem contains the word “*censored*,” a word thatis usually not considered acceptable for the general public.
Yet Larkinincorporates it almost immediately into his poem. I can think of four possiblereasons why. Firstly, words such as *censored* quickly and easily grab theaudiences attention. This is similar to yelling “sex” in a crowdedmarketplace, everyone wants to know what is being discussed. Also, words like*censored* prepare the audience for a humorous bit of poetry, and this perks theaudience’s attention, and lets them know off the bat that this will not beanother long and boring verse.
Secondly, words such as *censored* produce anatmosphere for adults, or mature people. One term that is used quite extensivelylately is “adult language. ” This term branches off of the common ideathat children should and would not use such words until they are older and havea more concrete knowledge of what they are really saying. Thus, by using a wordsuch as *censored*, Larkin creates a poem that will most likely not be read tochildren. Also, such a poem would not be read at certain social gatherings (i.
e. church meetings) where such words are considered unacceptable, further narrowingthe audience for this poem. That brings me to my third point: that the peoplewho read such a poem know, whether consciously or not, that they are in adistinct group, and that this poem was written for them. This allows Larkin toestablish a closeness with his readers, now that they know that he is writingfor them. This also implies to the reader that Larkin is one of them, that heknows the reader well, because he is in the same social class.
To sum it up, byusing a word considered to be socially incorrect, Larkin has managed toestablish more credibility with the reader, which inherently forces the readerlisten up, and pay attention to what Larkin has to say. Lately,”modern” art and poetry are showing more and more”unacceptable” words. This is because such words have becomesynonymous with “truth. ” In other words, the general public seems tofeel that if an artist is using curse words, then he must be “telling itlike it is.
” Thus, using such words helps Larkin’s credibility as a man whohas seen and will now tell. Larkin’s poem is divided into three stanzas, eachwith it’s own meaning and objectives. The first stanza is the introduction. Asdiscussed above, the first stanza singles out a select group of people andbuilds Larkin’s credibility with them. But beyond that, the first stanza alsoinspires several other feeling in the reader, just from the actual words ituses.
The very first line, in fact, insults your own parents. Larkin did this inorder to provoke a slight feeling of anger, one which he will dispense soonafterward. By the second line, Larkin has already started to divert the initialblow to your parents, saying that it is not their fault for what they did toyou. By the third and forth line, the insult has been successfully shifted fromyour parents to you, the reader. However, Larkin manages to shift not only theinsult, but that same feeling of anger toward the author, except that now theanger is there because the author insulted you. In the second stanza, Larkinagain justifies why it is not your parents fault for what they did to you.
Instead, he shifts the blame to your grandparents. However, if this poem wereread by your parents, then the blame would be shifted back another generation. And so on, until it is clear that the corruption of children has been going onfor ever, back to the first humans. On the other hand, should this poem be readby your children, then it would once again be your parents fault.
And so on,into infinity, it is everyone’s fault, for somewhere there will be someone toblame their faults on you. The last two lines of the second stanza describe howthe readers grandparents (or whomever the blame is being shifted on) went about”*censored*ing you up. ” However, the description that Larkin uses is avery typical description of what is considered a modern household, againimplying that nothing is anyone’s fault, but that we are all contributing to”*censored*ing up” of the world. The third stanza presents the problemin it’s simplest form, and then provides the solution to the problem.
Theproblem is stated on the first line, and the second line emphasizes the factthat this is a growing problem that seemingly can’t be stopped. The last twolines of the poem then provide the solution: to stop reproducing. This is whereLarkin says to the world that there is no way out of this problem. That thehuman race will either have to cease to exist, or simply live with all of it’sproblems. Like all of his poems, Larkin wrote “This be the Verse” withvery careful planning and word placement. And even though this is a funny poem,it has a very deep message to share with the world.
Everyone knows that theworld is full of problems, and that hundreds of organizations are trying hard tofix all of the problems in order to make our lives better. However, asdemonstrated in the poem, we can never absolve all our problems because we keephanding all of our flaws on to posterity. Thus, the human race will forever haveproblems, and although we work hard to decrease some, we will always have newproblems, and there will never be a completely happy world. And this lesson canbe applied to a smaller environment as well.
All the way through a country’sinternal problems, a city’s problems, a family’s problems and the problems onehas with oneself. No one can ever lead a perfectly happy life. There will alwaysbe problems to overcome.