The Poem That Every Angsty Kid (And Future Parent) Needs to Read

Mrs. Taylor’s AP Literature class wasn’t boring. In fact, she was always sure to entertain by drawing out some oblique Freudian innuendo from a text, then wiggling her eyebrows at us to add to the scandalous situation. And yet, I found myself mindlessly flipping through the pages of my textbook in class.

And I saw the word “fuck.”

In my textbook.

In my school-approved textbook.

So, of course, I had to read on. And there, I found exactly the words I needed to put my angsty teen feelings toward my parents into perspective:

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 anothers’ 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.

Philip Larkin, 1971

It’s a poem I still think of, every now and then, when my parents annoy me, or when I look at my daughter and think of how our relationship will transform as she grows up. It’s a sad thought, but a good truth to keep in mind.

Alas, I didn’t follow Larkin’s advice. I’ll just have to hold on to my very-human delusion of hoping that maybe this won’t happen with me and Jaya.

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