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Philip Larkin

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by

Helen Regan

on 4 September 2017

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Transcript of Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin
Life
He was an English poet, novelist and librarian.
He turned down the offer of Poet Laureate (1984)
Public persona = no-nonsense, solitary Englishman who disliked fame.
There were many significant women in his life, but despite a yearning for
love and intimacy his relationships seem to have been blighted by fear and indecision. He remained alone and became something of a recluse in later years, growing increasingly melancholic.
Style
Andrew Motion described his poetry having "a very English, glum accuracy about emotions, places, and relationships".
Larkin wished to “explore the dilemmas of ordinary individuals in a language that was close to everyday speech forms.
Themes in poetry of love, loneliness and transience (the state or fact of lasting only for a short time).
Mixed formal and colloquial language in poetry.
Poems and themes

Religion:
Church Going
An Arundel Tomb
The Explosion

The passing of the old world and its
values:
Church Going
An Arundel Tomb
MCMXIV
The Whitsun Weddings

Man and nature:
At Grass
An Arundel Tomb
The Trees
The Explosion
Cut Grass
MCMXIV
The Whitsun Weddings
Church Going
Wedding Wind
An Arundel Tomb
He expresses a frail hope that love might transcend death (hand symbol).
He also notes the essentially fragile and transient nature of human love.
Explores expression of love and its impact even after death.
Sensory imagery.
Cynical tone.
MCMXIV
The poem displays a world which is at once both pleasant and threatening. It is a world of good humour, leisure and innocence; but these are set against a backdrop of war, social inequity and the indifference of nature.
There is a sense of loss and admiration in his comment that there will never be "such innocence again".
Irony in his depiction of the naivety of the volunteers, lining up to enlist as though it were "all / An August Bank Holiday lark".
Ambulances
Death is the bleak, alarming, indifferent presence of the everyday.
The only hope, for him, seems to reside in the fact that nature does somehow go on.
Cynical and disparaging tone.
Shows selfish nature of humankind.
Vicariously living through lives less fortunate than our own.
Shows Larkin's eye for vivid detail.
The Explosion
Sense of foreboding throughout the poem.
Alliteration and repeated "s" sounds creates a soothing and calm tone.
Sense of menace and lurking of danger.
There is hope in the fact that life and nature continues after death.
Larkin's role is to let the work - the events and the subjects - stand alone, for good or ill. He is
not judging - he is recording.
At Grass
Life is brief but death is a long, slow process.
Death is seen as the natural culmination of life.
The idyllic picture of the horses living out their retirement in contentment is marred by a sense of loss, regret and the loneliness of old age.
Marriage:
The Whitsun Weddings
An Arundel Tomb
Wedding Wind
Church Going

Death/Transience of Life:
At Grass
An Arundel Tomb
MCMXIV
The Trees
Ambulances
The Explosion
Cut Grass
Church Going
An account of a wedding night, written from the woman's perspective.
The bride proclaims happiness but this is brought into question by the recurrence of dark, disturbing, contorted and violent images.
The wind is the central symbol in this poem, a force of energy that pulls the woman’s thoughts this way and that.
Nightmarish image from the feminist perspective = ‘a chipped pail to the chicken run.’
Full transcript