Book review: ‘Philip Larkin: Collected Poems’ edited by Anthony Thwaite

All of Larkin’s poems in one handy volume.

Philip Larkin: Collected PoemsPhilip Larkin’s poetry output was notoriously slow—especially in his later years. This book gathers all his poems together in a single volume. It’s a great book to dip into, rather than reading from cover to cover.

I like the idea of poetry, and I sometimes even get it. Other times, I haven’t a clue what the poet is on about. Not all of Larkin’s poems are to my taste—even those I do get. But a number of them I really enjoyed. (And no, I’m not just talking about his famous/notorious This Be the Verse.)

A few subjects covered in this collection that really appealed to me included:

  • looking through a woman’s photograph album;
  • realising you’ve started to mark time in decades;
  • looking out the window at a moonlit garden in the middle of the night;
  • visiting an old church;
  • incomprehension at old people not being terrified of their imminent demise.

But, as with all poetry anthologies, the whole point is to find your own favourites.

Highly recommended.


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