To Philip Larkin: Fuck You

Lorrance Herring
3 min readJan 30, 2020
Free image found on pexels.com “Life is a miracle not to be missed!”~ Lorrance Herring

Dear Philip Larkin,

You once wrote:

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.”

Well Phil,

I love the meter and the rhyme. I can even understand the sentiment.

You have a bit of a truism going on, but you sound a tad bit jaded.

You went on to write:

“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.”

Wow! You must have lived during a time when you witnessed a lot of hypocrisy! You must have had some sexual issues, or some mommy and daddy issues. I wonder, were you ever sexually molested, or just frustrated?

I learned that you went through a period of sexual identity confusion and wrote a lot of erotica under the female name, Brunette Coleman.

I can remember my parents wearing out-of-fashion clothing (don’t they all?)…and having a few arguments. I can remember my dad drinking beer…but he never attacked my mother or tried to strangle her! He loved and respected her!

You finished your poem with this conclusion that pissed me off:

“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.”

Why would that piss me off? Because I live on the Oregon coast and I learned about your poetry while at the University of Oregon after I had eight children with a man who once slammed me up against the wall and punched the wall in front of my children during a fit of rage. We were “Once Upon a Time” Sunday School teachers.

They are now living on the coast with their dad and I am told we are overdue for a major earthquake where the entire coastal shelf could slide into the ocean, taking my beautiful children with it!

So, Philip Larkin, I admire your talent. I respect your world view as your own while you were alive to have it, but fuck you. You are now the icon of a man in an old-style hat and coat. That’s ironic.

If my own GOOD parents had not had me, the youngest of six, and if my grandmother had not had my father, among the youngest of thirteen, I wouldn’t be here to argue with a dead old poet and write this in response:

This Be The Verse Reversed

They set you up, your mom and dad.

But, they may have been set up, too.

They fill you with the faith they had

Then add some extra, just for you!

But they were set up in their turn

By fools who sowed their wild oats,

Who half the time were more than stern

And half, acting like lambs and goats.

Man hands on DNA to man.

It changes like a coastal shelf.

Hang onto life as best you can,

But, love your kids just like yourself.

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Lorrance Herring

Oregon born, Bardass Poet, Bat-Shit Crazy Stand-Up Comedian, Entertaining Social Activist, Mamadadaist Artist of 8 kids, Weirdo Wonder Woman, Narc Researcher