High Windows

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High Windows
First edition
AuthorPhilip Larkin
CountryUnited Kingdom
Published1974 (Faber and Faber)
Preceded byThe Whitsun Weddings 

High Windows is a collection of poems by English poet Philip Larkin, and was published in 1974 by Faber and Faber Limited. The readily available paperback version was first published in Britain in 1979. The collection is the last publication of new poetry by Larkin before his death in 1985, and it contains some of his most famous poems, including the title piece, "High Windows", "Dublinesque", and "This Be The Verse".[1] The collection contains themes presented in his earlier collections, though the tone of the poems caused critics to suggest the book is darker and more "socially engaged" than his earlier volumes.[1][2][3][4] It is currently on the AQA AS/A2 level English Literature syllabus.


The volume contains 24 poems:

Sequence Poem title Completion date
1 To the Sea 6910Oct 1969 (best known date)
2 Sympathy in White Major 670831 Aug 1967
3 The Trees 670602 Jun 1967
4 Livings: I, II, III 711210 Dec 1971
5 Forget What Did 710806 Aug 1971
6 High Windows 670212 Feb 1967
7 Friday Night in the Royal Station Hotel 660520 May 1966
8 The Old Fools 730112 Jan 1973
9 Going, Going 720125 Jan 1972
10 The Card-Players 70056 May 1970
11 The Building 720209 Feb 1972
12 Posterity 680617 Jun 1968
13 Dublinesque 700606 Jun 1970
14 Homage to a Government 690110 Jan 1969
15 This Be The Verse 7104Apr 1971 (best known date)
16 How Distant 651124 Nov 1965
17 Sad Steps 680424 Apr 1968
18 Solar 641104 Nov 1964
19 Annus Mirabilis 670716 Jul 1967
20 Vers de Société 710519 May 1971
21 Show Saturday 731203 Dec 1973
22 Money 730219 Feb 1973
23 Cut Grass 710603 Jun 1971
24 The Explosion 700105 Jan 1970

Critical reception[edit]

Clive James, in As of this writing, describes High Windows as Larkin's bleakest volume of poetry, though he does admit that there are aspects of the poetry that contain the humour found in Larkin's earlier books of poetry. James suggests that Larkin has never liked the idea of a poet "Developing" and that Larkin himself remains the same throughout his career as a poet. High Windows, in James's opinion, shows that Larkin simply strives, with the addition of each poem, to state more clearly the same principles shown by his early works and concludes that "The total impression of High Windows is of despair made beautiful." [4]


The following is the blurb from the published book.

"When Philip Larkin's High Windows first appeared, Kingsley Amis spoke for a large and loyal readership when he wrote:

'Larkin's admirers need only be told that he is as good as ever here, if not slightly better.' Like Betjeman and Hardy, Larkin is a poet who can move a large audience — to laughter and to tears — without betraying the highest artistic standards."


  1. ^ a b Cooper, Stephen.Philip Larkin: Subversive Writer. Sussex Academic Press (2004)p.170
  2. ^ Swarbrick, Andrew. Out of Reach: The Poetry of Philip Larkin London Macmillan (1995)pp.122-123
  3. ^ Regan, Stephen. Philip Larkin. Palgrave Macmillan (1997) p.124
  4. ^ a b James, Clive. As of This Writing.W. W. Norton & Company(2003)p.57