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Old 11-28-2009, 12:30 PM
Gail White's Avatar
Gail White Gail White is offline
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Location: Breaux Bridge, LA, USA
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As a voluntarily childless person, I always considered the poem to be a vote for my side, without being an insult to his parents.
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Old 11-28-2009, 12:59 PM
Richard Epstein Richard Epstein is offline
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Location: Denver
Posts: 319

"Asterisks are a commendable show of good will."

I didn't know that. I always thought of them as a shortcut to the most interesting parts of Gibbon.

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Old 11-28-2009, 01:02 PM
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Quincy Lehr Quincy Lehr is offline
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Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
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What everyone is tiptoeing around is that there is a general ban on swear words, ostensibly for reasons of government surveillance (though I've yet to hear of a poetry site getting shut town for a "f%^k" or "s#!t" or a$$ or "I'd like to f%^k Shirley Mae in the a$$. Yeah, right in the s#!tter!"), but really, I suspect, a certain schoolmarmishness. Which is a bit indicative.

Hell, I got griped out via PM by management for writing "hell" a few months ago, a word that appears a hell of a lot in American prime-time TV programming. I mean, what the hell?

Last edited by Quincy Lehr; 11-28-2009 at 01:15 PM. Reason: Added in a bit.
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Old 11-28-2009, 01:07 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Doesn't Larkin pretty much let parents off the hook in the second line, by saying that the damage is inevitable, regardless of good or ill intent?

I've always read the final line as looking backwards at the previous generation with sympathy and understanding--a variation on the "Judge not, lest ye be judged" motif--rather than a serious prescription for the future. (Even if Larkin does seem to have taken his own advice.)
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Old 11-28-2009, 02:27 PM
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Kate Benedict Kate Benedict is offline
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Location: New York, NY, USA
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It's astonishing to me how often the wry, dry, ironic, "seriously funny" poem is earnestly received by readers. This poem is a perfect example. It takes the ol' parent-blaming argument from psychoanalysis to an absurd conclusion, a reductio ad absurdam. It's not about "bad parents" but the part-smart mindset that blames parents for all the bad things in one's life while crediting them for none of the good.

The lilting rhymed quatrains result in a poem that is not heavy satire, but light satire, delicious. It's also a dramatic monologue. I always hear it in my mind as spoken in an Irish brogue, but I suppose a cockney would do nicely. They say Larkin was a jaundiced person but here's proof that he could put a funny spin on his soupuss outlook.
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Old 11-28-2009, 02:57 PM
Richard Epstein Richard Epstein is offline
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Location: Denver
Posts: 319

what the hell?

Damned if I know. It's a #^*! of a thing. And now you tell me that if I tell the joke which ends,

He said, `Bugger all,' my Lord.

Really? I could have sworn I heard him say something

Dick Cheney might be listening. Or the Chairman of the Illuminati. Or someone.

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Old 11-28-2009, 05:07 PM
Adam Elgar Adam Elgar is offline
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Location: UK
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Kate, psychoanalysis doesn't blame parents. It attempts to understand the dynamics. Human nature is the most complicated subject of all, and psychoanalysis tries to study it. Maybe a fool's errand (though I don't happen to think so) - but it's not about blame.
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Old 11-28-2009, 06:07 PM
Robin-Kemp Robin-Kemp is offline
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Location: Forest Park, GA USA
Posts: 539

C*ver y**r f*cking l*gs, p*rv*rts!

--Vickie "My Parents Made Me Do It" Torrian ;D
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Old 11-28-2009, 07:40 PM
Anna M Evans Anna M Evans is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Hainesport, NJ, USA
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Not quite a Cockney accent...sorry Kate!

Poems by Heart: Anna Evans recites Larkin's "This Be the Verse"
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Old 11-28-2009, 08:48 PM
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Kevin Cutrer Kevin Cutrer is offline
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 200

This is the thread I had in mind when I posted the article.

I don't know much about what "light" verse "should" be, but I think "This Be the Verse" is d@#* good for a laugh.
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