MCMXIV by Philip Larkin   Philip Larkin’s “MCMXIV”—a searing exposé of modern war that artfully tempers its disgust and rage—appeared in the 1964 volume The Whitsun Weddings, arguably the strongest individual volume of British verse produced in the twentieth century. As cultural instruction designed to curtail the making of war, the poem fails miserably. With respect to military hostilities at least, Auden was correct: “poetry makes nothing happen.” As a guide to making poems, however, “1914” cannot be beat. First, the work carries the intense specificity that drives a forceful, memorable poem, capturing with remarkable compression the particulars of its milieu: “Oval or Villa Park,” “moustached archaic faces,” “dark-clothed children at play / Called after kings and queens,” “tin advertisements / For cocoa and…