Monday, April 6, 2009

Something I think about a lot.

Where did Philip Larkin get his title for “This Be The Verse” (They fuck you up your mum and dad)? Consider Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Requiem”:

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you ‘grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

So we have to figure that “they fuck you up your mum and dad” was the verse that Larkin was asking to have engraved on his tomb. It didn't happen. The grave reads “Philip Larkin, writer,” and yet “This Be the Verse,” is in fact the mental headstone by which most people locate the memory of the poet. Usually when one small piece so dominates a career, we in the know all think “Bah! Really? ‘Blowin in the wind’? ‘Aooo Werewoves of London. Aooo.” But here, in a clear code, Larkin has told us by the purview of his title that this, in fact, be the verse dude wants ‘graved on his grave. So it all worked out.

1 comment:

EricBourland said...

I always wondered that. Thanks.