- 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.
The poem has three quatrains written in Iambic Tetrameter, meaning that there are four feet (two syllables = one foot) of unstressed/stressed syllables per line. The quatrains follow an ABAB / CDCD / EFEF rhyming pattern.
Iambic tetrameter example:
× / × / × / × / Man hands on misery to man. × / × / × / × / It deepens like a coastal shelf.
English poet Philip Larkin was born 9 August 1922 and died 2 December 1985. He composed "This Be The Verse" in April 1971, and it was first published in the August 1971 issues of New Humanist, before appearing in his 1974 collection High Windows. It is considered one of the United Kingdom's top 100 poems, as voted by television viewers.
The poem's title is a reference to "Requiem" by Robert Louis Stevenson, in which there is a line of "This be the verse you grave for me," a thought of a happy homecoming in death.
Usage in A Series of Unfortunate Events
Only the final verse is used, due to the usage of the word "fuck" (considered foul language for a children's program), in the first two quatrains.