footnotes to larkin

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

Philip Larkin

Footnote to Larkin

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
—Philip Larkin

To blame it on your mum and dad
and claim it’s their fault what you do
takes quite a nerve — as though you had
no part to play in what makes you.

This fucked-up childhood myth’s a line
that everyone’s at some time used;
it may explain why you’re a swine,
but not why you should be excused.

Harry Ricketts

“I imagine he wrote ‘They tuck you up, your mum and dad’ and then rode the wave of a typo.”
Tom Raworth

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