Poetry: Self’s the Man

Self’s the Man is a poem by Philip Larkin- the famous poet of 20th century.  The poem presents, in a humorous manner, a contrast between the life of a bachelor and a married man.

Self’s the Man

Oh, no one can deny
That Arnold is less selfish than I.
He married a woman to stop her getting away
Now she’s there all day,

And the money he gets for wasting his life on work
She takes as her perk
To pay for the kiddies’ clobber and the drier
And the electric fire,

And when he finishes supper
Planning to have a read at the evening paper
It’s Put a screw in this wall –
He has no time at all,

With the nippers to wheel round the houses
And the hall to paint in his old trousers
And that letter to her mother
Saying Won’t you come for the summer.

To compare his life and mine
Makes me feel a swine:
Oh, no one can deny
That Arnold is less selfish than I.

But wait, not do fast:
Is there such a contrast?
He was out for his own ends
Not just pleasing his friends;

And if it was such a mistake,
He still did it for his own sake,
Playing his own game.
So he and I are the same,
Only I’m a better hand
At knowing what I can stand!
                                           – Philip Larkin

Did you like the poem? Have you read it before? Do share your thoughts. Thanks.

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