Monday, December 7th, 2009

The 94 Best Philip Larkin Poems, In Order

94. Going
93. The North Ship
92. Homage To A Government
91. To Put One Brick Upon Another
90. Faith Healing
89. A Study Of Reading Habits
88. Grief
87. Love, We Must Part Now
86. Deceptions
85. The School In August
84. I Remember, I Remember
83. Vers De Société
82. Mother, Summer, I
81. Water
80. Arrival
79. Wild Oats
78. Counting
77. Maiden Name
76. Wedding Wind
75. I Have Started To Say
74. New Eyes Each Year
73. To My Wife
72. Since The Majority Of Me
71. Cut Grass
70. Like The Train's Beat
69. Reasons For Attendance
68. Maturity
67. Breadfruit
66. Long Sight In Age
65. To Failure
64. The Building
63. Essential Beauty
62. First Sight
61. No Road
60. Myxomatosis
59. Solar
58. Wants
57. Modesties
56. This Is The First Thing
55. Story
54. Days
53. How Distant
52. Far Out
51. Triple Time
50. Wires
49. If Hands Could Free You, Heart
48. Night-Music
47. The Spirit Wooed
46. The Trees
45. Dublinesque
44. Ignorance
43. Ambulances
42. Toads
41. Nothing To Be Said
40. Next, Please
39. Church Going
38. Talking In Bed
37. The Mower
36. Send No Money
34. Poetry Of Departures
33. The Explosion
32. Träumerei
31. The Little Lives Of Earth And Form
30. Autobiography At An Air-Station
29. Skin
28. Why Did I Dream Of You Last Night?
27. Is It For Now Or For Always
26. Best Society
25. Money
24. Love Songs In Age
23. Sad Steps
22. At Grass
21. Whatever Happened?
20. Sunny Prestatyn
19. Lines On A Young Lady's Photograph Album
18. Home Is So Sad
17. The Importance Of Elsewhere
16. Toads Revisited
15. Continuing To Live
14. When First We Faced, And Touching Showed
13. The Old Fools
12. Love Again
11. An Arundel Tomb
10. Take One Home For The Kiddies
9. Dockery And Son
8. Annus Mirabilis
7. The Whitsun Weddings
6. This Be The Verse
5. Bridge for the Living
4. Friday Night At The Royal Station Hotel
3. High Windows
2. Mr Bleaney
1. Aubade

38 Comments / Post A Comment

David Cho (#3)

Alex Balk (#4)

I know, I know, you think "This Be The Verse" should have been ranked higher.

LondonLee (#922)

I think it should be lower. And Whitsun Weddings higher.

cinetrix (#47)

Aubade, so predictable. I coulda called that one in 2003.

Alex Balk (#4)

I think you DID.

cinetrix (#47)

I know, but bragging is so unbecoming.

conrad (#2,470)

I Remember, I Remember should be at least as high as thirty.

Alex Balk (#4)

This was a hard one to do!

lululemming (#409)

All virtues is sooooooooo-shul.

This Be The Verse doesn't crack the top 5? You're blind, ref!

lululemming (#409)


Church Going at 39? Bah.

hockeymom (#143)

So cheery.

Death is no different whined at than withstood.

michel_mishka (#1,566)

Balk, I'm not seeing 'Here'.

Why am I not seeing 'Here' on this list, Balk?

Alex Balk (#4)

It's his "Suedehead."

Wait, wait. I want to understand the Suedehead/Here problem.

Is it because this was meant to be overtly likeable in an ironic? WHY DON'T THESE COUNT??

Is this a taste issue or because it is out of step with the artists canon?

Regina Small (#2,468)

A Study of Reading Habits only #89? "Get stewed:/ Books are a load of crap" may be the most brilliant line of poetry ever penned.

hockeymom (#143)

I always liked #28 "Why Did I Dream of You Last Night?"

But I'm a sucker for the lyrics of Bread, too.

Multiphasic (#411)

"Arundel Tomb" out of the top ten? Go oil yourself, you fucking robot.

shaunr (#726)

" We men have got love well weighed up; our stuff

Can get by without it.

Women don't seem to think that's good enough;

They write about it,"

chrisafer (#1,322)

Sad Steps not even in the top 20? What other poem can you think of that so perfectly captures stumbling back to bed after piddling in the middle of the night?

I may have to stop reading this here website.

jennie (#25)


jennie (#25)

i like bread lyrics too

elecampane (#1,877)

are you meta-meta-enabling? meta-disabling? when I opened this I wanted to send Awl of you a holiday basket, so I think its good.

"f me up my mum and dad" [yes, I changed it] should be a step in some very ornate cockney rhyming slang whereby lilypad becomes code for a sexual act.

elecampane (#1,877)


Mitch (#2,472)

How is "Born Yesterday" not even on there?

shaunr (#726)

"I want to see them starving,
The so-called working class.
Their something something something,
Their children stewing grass."

Like the letters, Balk?

propertius (#361)

Best book review I ever read was Kingsley Amis, in the Spectator, on Andrew Motion's biography of Larkin.

He used the word "pfui" (if I remember the spelling). I like the idea of more reviewers using that word, but at the same time fear that none could wield it as he did.

At any rate, my vote for underrated poem is "Faith Healing".

HonoriaGlossop (#1,247)

I remember that review – you're right, it WAS terrific.

But I'm biased – I'm the big dork who couldn't wait to get her copy of The Collected Letters of Kingsley Amis, so she could read it side-by-side with her copy of Larkin's collected letters. I think I've yet to read anything more entertaining!

HonoriaGlossop (#1,247)

Seriously, I already loved the awl, but this just made my brain explode with happiness.

Huge points for Toads Revisited.

I know everybody likes to quote the first line of This Be The Verse for shock value, but it's the last verse that I choose to live by.

hockeymom (#143)

When I was little, we use to visit my grandparents for the holidays.
My grandfather was an Ivy-league educated university professor.
My grandmother published poems and painted. They had my father late in life and sent him to boarding school as soon as they could. They weren't good with kids, but they were my favorite grandparents, because they would drink, then compose plays for the four of us to perform. (my mom's parents were straight from Italy and great but they YELLED ALL THE TIME, which scared me).

Anyway, when I was in about 4th grade, I was at their house for Christmas. I liked to read and they would always be suggesting things. That year, they got into a big fight over whether I should read Larkin or Plath. They wouldn't speak to each other for an entire day because of this. I didn't want to offend them, so I went with Thurber. (because of the pictures, naturally).

And – and not only for the pictures – you're a better person for it. Thurber was my source of all that was good (or fucked up) or wise (or really stupid) from ages 8 to 12. Time for a Thurber revival. (Let's not even get started on the need to know more Ring Lardner.)

holborne (#2,473)

I do not know you, yet I love you, SarahHeartburn. Ring Lardner is only the greatest and most underrated writer EVER. And Thurber too, come to think of it, even though he was kind of a shithead.

As for the Larkin list, I would move "Since the Majority of Me" up about ten slots and move "This Be the Verse" down about ten.

Thurber you have to take as a whole. Some of the stuff is maudlin and gloomy, but there're gems hidden in all that. And Lardner should be on Mount Rushmore just for "'Shut up.', he explained".

And if you don't get the last sentence, get yourself to a pubilc library* and enlighten yourselves.

*You DO still have libraries in the US?

kneetoe (#1,881)

Hah, "'Shut up,' he explained"–my father-in-law used to quote that regularly. What a great line.

the teeth (#380)

I know that this sort of suckupery isn't super attractive, but keep this up and I'm gunna be full-fledged, do-something-rash-to-ruin-my-(imaginary-)marriage-of-20-years in love w/ this website.

therzo (#1,085)

Shameless SEO bait. But so much more timely than Choire recapping The Wire.

the teeth (#380)

Shameless SEO bait? I'd think more like shameless demographic-pandering.

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