Nomination: This Be The Verse [April ? 1971. From High Windows]
For me, ‘This Be The Verse’, with its tort timing and unambiguous accessibility, epitomizes all that poetry should be. Here, Larkin is almost anarchic in his deliberately crude choice of form. In my humble opinion Larkin utilizes the word ‘fuck’ with far more aplomb than any other writer has to date. This mostly monosyllabic and rigorously reasoned rant berates convention and engages the reader. You either agree wholly with Larkin or disagree, either way the last stanza with its throw-away ending is magnificently defiant.
What is all the more remarkable is that Larkin was playing down the highbrow, utilizing a vulgar tone of phrase that reverberates the acidic tone of the poem. In High Windows Larkin was on the cusp of taking poetry to a new stratosphere of accessibility, in ‘This Be The Verse’ he soared beyond that stratosphere for just one unforgettable moment.
Personally, I have happened across this poem at various times in life and have never failed to be stunned by its flawless form. I sincerely hope that this month you will all be equally gratified by happening across ‘This Be The Verse’ once again.
David Rudd Mitchell