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Philip Arthur Larkin CBE (9 August 1922 – 2 December 1985) was an English poet and occasional novelist. He was one of the leading poets in England starting with The Less Deceived, released in 1955. His poems often contained soaring emotions involving life and death, but without going into cloying sentimentality or self-pity.

An intensely private man, Larkin never married and worked as a librarian for the University of Hull. He was offered, but declined, the position of British Poet Laureate a year before his death from cancer at age 63.


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Selected bibliography:

Poetry

  • The North Ship (1945)
  • XX Poems (1951)
  • Poems (1954)
  • The Less Deceived (1955)
  • The Whitsun Weddings (1964)
  • Aubade (1980)
  • Collected Poems (1989)
  • Corgi Modern Poets in Focus 5 (1971)
  • Femmes Damnées (1978)
  • High Windows (1974)

Prose

  • A Girl in Winter (1947)
  • Jill (1964)
  • All What Jazz: A Record Diary 1961-68 (1970)
  • Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955-1982 (1984)
  • Selected Letters 1940-1985 (1992)


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His works contain examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: The speaker in Aubade.
  • Cessation of Existence: Death in Aubade is described as this, which makes it utterly horrifying for the narrator.
  • Confirmed Bachelor: Larkin was one. Several of his poems, such as "Self's the Man" or "Dockery and Son", address whether he's better off than those who married and had children.
  • Meddling Parents: In "This Be the Verse", from High Windows.
  • Precision F-Strike: Again, "This Be the Verse".
  • Straw Nihilist: A large proportion of his poetry seems to present this viewpoint; particularly notable is Aubade, which is about the utter futility of life, given the inevitability of death.

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