'They fuck you up, your mum and dad.'

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This Be The Verse

by Philip Larkin


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.

by Philip Larkin

'The Complete Poems' by Philip Larkin. (Faber and Faber, 2014)


Poem as Friend to Hannah

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This Be The Verseby Philip Larkin

In this episode of our podcast, you will hear Hannah talk about the poem that has been a friend to her: 'This Be The Verse' by Philip Larkin.

We are delighted to feature 'This Be The Verse' in this episode and would like to thank Faber and Faber for allowing us to use it in this way.

Hannah visited The Poetry Exchange at St Chad's College Chapel in Durham, during Durham Book Festival, in association with Durham University Foundation Programme. We’re very grateful to all our Durham partners for hosting us so warmly.


Hannah is in conversation with The Poetry Exchange team members, John Prebble and Michael Shaeffer.


'This Be The Verse' is read by Michael Shaeffer.


We talk to people about the poem that has been a friend to them.

In exchange we create a gift for them, a bespoke reading of their chosen poem inspired by the conversation. Our award-winning podcast shares these unique and powerful stories of connection with people across the world. 


We set up an intimate environment for these conversations at festivals, in arts, cultural and public spaces across the country. We also hold exchanges ‘long distance’. Our visitors come from all walks of life and we also feature well-known personalities such as Andrew Scott, Maxine Peake, Roy McFarlane and Paterson Joseph.