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Quotes by Philip Larkin on life, death, people, love and other things.

66 Notable Quotes By Philip Larkin, The Author Of High Windows

Quick Facts

Famous As: Poet

Born On: August 9, 1922

Died On: December 2, 1985

Born In: Radford, Coventry, United Kingdom

Died At Age: 63

Philip Larkin was an English poet, librarian, novelist and a jazz critic best known for his poems and novels. His first book of poetry was ‘The North Ship’, and two novels named ‘Jill’ and ‘A Girl in Winter’. However, his work gained prominence with a collection of poems ‘The Less Deceived’ which were followed by The ‘Whitsun Weddings’ and ‘High Windows’. Larkin was a graduated from the University of Oxford with English language and Literature. After graduation Larkin became a librarian   and worked as the university librarian at the University of Hull. During his tenure as a librarian for 30 years, Larkin produced most of his significant works. He was criticized for including no to minimal feelings in his poems. However, Larkin continued his unique style of poems that were highly structured but surprisingly flexible which he is known for now. Larkin was known for being a no-nonsense, solitary Englishman who disliked fame and had no patience for the rising trend of attracting public attention by other writers of his era. Here are some notable quotes by Philip Larkin.

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I have no enemies. But my friends don't like me.

Philip Larkin

Poetry is nobody’s business except the poet’s, and everybody else can fuck off.

Philip Larkin

What will survive of us is love.

Philip Larkin

So many things I had thought forgotten Return to my mind with stranger pain: Like letters that arrive addressed to someone Who left the house so many years ago.

Philip Larkin

How little our careers express what lies in us, and yet how much time they take up. It's sad, really.

Philip Larkin

I feel the only thing you can do about life is to preserve it, by art if you're an artist, by children if you're not.

Philip Larkin

I can't understand these chaps who go round American universities explaining how they write poems: It's like going round explaining how you sleep with your wife.

Philip Larkin

Originality is being different from oneself, not others.

Philip Larkin

Something, like nothing, happens anywhere.

Philip Larkin

On me your voice falls as they say love should, Like an enormous yes.

Philip Larkin

Uncontradicting solitude Supports me on its giant palm; And like a sea-anemone Or simple snail, there cautiously Unfolds, emerges, what I am.

Philip Larkin

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left, / Shaped to the comfort of the last to go / As if to win them back

Philip Larkin

Parents fuck you up. They don't mean to but they do.

Philip Larkin

Sex means nothing--just the moment of ecstasy, that flares and dies in minutes.

Philip Larkin

I have a sense of melancholy isolation, life rapidly vanishing, all the usual things. It's very strange how often strong feelings don't seem to carry any message of action.

Philip Larkin

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows: The sun-comprehending glass, And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

Philip Larkin

Since the majority of me Rejects the majority of you, Debating ends forthwith, and we Divide.

Philip Larkin

Everyone should be forcibly transplanted to another continent from their family at the age of three.

Philip Larkin

Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth.

Philip Larkin

I am always trying to 'preserve' things by getting other people to read what I have written, and feel what I felt.

Philip Larkin

Only in books the flat and final happens, Only in dreams we meet and interlock....

Philip Larkin

Dear, I can't write, it's all a fantasy: a kind of circling obsession.

Philip Larkin

I wouldn't mind seeing China if I could come back the same day.

Philip Larkin

...the breath that sharpens life is life itself...

Philip Larkin

The way the moon dashes through clouds that blow Loosely as cannon-smoke... Is a reminder of the strength and pain Of being young; that it can't come again, But is for others undiminished somewhere.

Philip Larkin

There is bad in all good authors: what a pity the converse isn't true!

Philip Larkin

Most things may never happen: this one will.

Philip Larkin

Depression hangs over me as if I were Iceland.

Philip Larkin

SEX is designed for people who like overcoming obstacles.

Philip Larkin

Saki says that youth is like hors d'oeuvres: you are so busy thinking of the next courses you don't notice it. When you've had them, you wish you'd had more hors d'oeuvres.

Philip Larkin

In times when nothing stood / but worsened, or grew strange / there was one constant good: / she did not change.

Philip Larkin

Sexual intercourse began in nineteen sixty-three (Which was rather late for me) between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles' first LP.

Philip Larkin

It becomes still more difficult to find Words at once true and kind, Or not untrue and not unkind.

Philip Larkin

I'd like to think...that people in pubs would talk about my poems

Philip Larkin

Here is unfenced existence

Philip Larkin

I have wished you something None of the others would....

Philip Larkin

Life is slow dying.

Philip Larkin

Books are a load of crap

Philip Larkin

Time has transfigured them into Untruth. The stone fidelity They hardly meant has come to be Their final blazon, and to prove Our almost-instinct almost true: What will survive of us is love.

Philip Larkin

This is the first thing I have understood: Time is the echo of an axe within a wood.

Philip Larkin

One of the quainter quirks of life is that we shall never know who dies on the same day as we do ourselves.

Philip Larkin

I think that at the bottom of all art lies the impulse to preserve.

Philip Larkin

I came to the conclusion that an enormous amount of research was needed to form an opinion on anything, and therefore abandoned politics altogether as a topic of conversation.

Philip Larkin

Why can't one stop being a son without becoming a father?

Philip Larkin

I would not dare Console you if I could. What can be said, Except that suffering is exact, but where Desire takes charge, readings will grow erratic?

Philip Larkin

Life is first boredom, then fear. whether or not we use it, it goes, and leaves what something hidden from us chose, and age, and then the only end of age.

Philip Larkin

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.

Philip Larkin

In life, as in art, talking vitiates doing.

Philip Larkin

The first day after a death, the new absence Is always the same; we should be careful Of each other, we should be kind While there is still time. From The Mower

Philip Larkin

If I looked into your face / expecting a word or a laugh on the old conditions, / it would not be a friend who met my eye

Philip Larkin

It never worked for me. Something to do with violence A long way back, and wrong rewards, And arrogant eternity.

Philip Larkin

Time is the echo of an axe Within a wood.

Philip Larkin

And I am sick for want of sleep; So sick, that I can half-believe The soundless river pouring from the cave Is neither strong nor deep; Only an image fancied in conceit.

Philip Larkin

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

It will be worth it, if in the end I manage To blank out whatever it is that is doing the damage. Then there will be nothing I know. My mind will fold into itself, like fields, like snow.

Philip Larkin

He [Llewelyn Powys] has always in mind the great touchstone Death & consequently life is always judged as how far it fits us, or compensates us, for ultimately dying.

Philip Larkin

Mother's electric blanket broke, & I have 'mended' it, so she may be practising suttee involuntarily before long.

Philip Larkin

Living toys are something novel, But it soon wears off somehow.

Philip Larkin

Ought we to smile / Perhaps make friends? No: in the race for seats / You're best alone. Friendship is not worth while.

Philip Larkin

Only one ship is seeking us, a black- Sailed unfamiliar, towing at her back A huge and birdless silence. In her wake No waters breed or break.

Philip Larkin

Earth never grieves, I thought, walking across the park, watching seagulls cruising greedily above the ground looking for heaven knows what. Don't you think it's a good line? A very good line

Philip Larkin

I had a moral tutor, but never saw him (the only words of his I remember are 'The three pleasures of life -drinking, smoking, and masturbation')

Philip Larkin

A good meal can somewhat repair / The eatings of slight love

Philip Larkin

They both rise / Make for the Coke dispenser. 'What's he like? / Christ, I just told you.

Philip Larkin

I suppose if one lives to be old, one's entire waking life will be spent turning on the spit of recollection over the fires of mingled shame, pain or remorse. Cheerful prospect!

Philip Larkin

Poetry is an affair of sanity, of seeing things as they are.

Philip Larkin