Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Philip Larkin on Parenting

One of the less endearing traits of humankind is the tendency of parents to foist their biases, bigotry and stupidity upon their children. So many dumb ideas get promulgated by parents who don't know any better (or do but are mean spirited enough to do so anyway). Philip Larkin expressed it quite bluntly in the following:

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.

1 comment:

Neil said...

To be fair: being the miserable sod that he was, Larkin typically overstated his case for effect here -- one can just as easily hand on happiness as misery to the next generation, and there are many people who have managed to break away from the poisonous beliefs and attitudes of their parents -- after all, most of us eventually reach a point where our opinions are more likely to be formed by our peer group (even if we don't manage to learn to think for ourselves.) True to his closing words Larkin had no kids of his own but, if he had, he'd have been as sentimental and protective of them as everyone is.