PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: to access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
PN Review Prize winners announced
Carcanet Press and PN Review are delighted to announce the winners of the first ever PN Review Prize. read more
Most Read... Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing
‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing

(PN Review 236)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott
1930–2017

(PN Review 235)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Kate BinghamPuddle
(PN Review 236)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Gratis Ad 2
Next Issue CELEBRATING JOHN ASHBERY Contributors include Mark Ford, Marina Warner, Jeremy Over, Theophilus Kwek, Sam Riviere, Luke Kennard, Philip Terry,Agnes Lehoczky, Emily Critchley, Oli Hazard and others Miles Champion The Gold Standard Rebecca Watts The Cult of the Noble Amateur Marina Tsvetaeva ‘My desire has the features of a woman’: Two Letters translated by Christopher Whyte Iain Bamforth Black and White

This review is taken from PN Review 208, Volume 39 Number 2, November - December 2012.

To Me it was Dilution philip larkin, Complete Poems, edited by Archie Burnett (Faber) £40

Larkin died in 1985 with four very short collections of poetry to his name. There was also a smattering of other published poems, such as 'Aubade', included in the TLS at Christmas 1977 and brimming with tidings of comfort and joy:

I work all day, and get half drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now [...].

Collected Poems was published three years after unresting death caught up with him. It was surprisingly thick, the editor Anthony Thwaite including a lot of poems Larkin had chosen not to publish or hadn't even finished. Some were superb, or at least illuminating; others were neither. A slimmer Collected then appeared in 2003, followed a couple of years later by an unfeasibly fat volume of juvenilia, this time edited by A.T. Tolley.

Now these books have potentially been superseded in turn by the present, altogether more substantial tome. The poems in Complete Poems are split into seven categories: the four collections plus 'Other Poems Published in the Poet's Lifetime', 'Poems Not Published in the Poet's Lifetime' and 'Undated or Approximately Dated Poems' - the latter three categories covering 230 pages and filling considerably more than twice the space of the first four. Such a book needs justifying, in the light of its predecessors, and Burnett ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image