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Less Deceived, The

The Less Deceived

larkin poem poems book

the second of Philip Larkin's principal collections of verse, published in 1955. The book's title, taken from the poem ‘Deceptions’, suggests its recurrent critique of what ‘Next Please’ terms the ‘bad habits of expectancy’ fostered by romantic ideals of fulfilment or escape; conventional notions of emotionally significant attachment of particular persons or places are repudiated in several poems, notably ‘Places, Loved Ones’ and ‘I Remember, I Remember’; the defunctness of organized religion as a counter to the increasingly secular and materialist cultural order evinced in numerous poems is a principal theme in ‘Church Going’, the collection's longest and best-known poem. ‘If, My Darling’ extends Larkin's assessment of the diminished quality of life to his own imaginative experience; in defining the tension between ‘meaning and meaning's rebuttal’ in a consciousness for which ‘the past is past and the future neuter’ the poem indicates the book's pervasive distrust of received ideas, complacencies of memory, and illusory expectations. The bleak tenor of much of The Less Deceived is offset by the unsentimentally affirmative lyricism informing numerous poems, particularly ‘Wedding Wind’, ‘Coming’, and ‘At Grass’; Larkin's scepticism is also frequently qualified by his wryly ironic wit and the subversive effects of occasional humorous colloquialisms. Virtuosity in the highly individual use of rhyme, metre, and stanzaic structure and resonantly effective use of imagery drawn from precise observation are apparent throughout the collection, which established Larkin's reputation among the foremost poets of the 1950s.

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