Philip Larkin: Poems Summary

Philip Larkin: Poems Summary

Philip Larkin was one of the most established poets of his time. While he was initially inspired by Eliot and Yeats, he eventually chose his own distinctive style of writing.

Unlike Eliot and Yeats, whose works were obscure and highly intellectual, Larkin started writing in a standard colloquial style. The colloquial aspect is very import. In a poem like Church Going, he talks about an everyday event in a very cavalier tone. He doesn’t write anything overly profound or complex. While his own particular brand of complexity stems from this initial simplicity. In Church Going, Larkin talks about an almost ritualistic event, and the language he uses to delineate this event is just as much of a ritual to people. He doesn’t inflect the poem with complex allusions or allegories but, in a very cavalier manner, depicts a day in the life of an uncertain speaker in front of just “another church”.

Another important thing that makes the poems of Larkin distinctive is the everyday that (in parallel with the style of writing). Unlike modernist writers, Larkin doesn’t write about abstract issues and doesn’t delve to deep into the politics of war. He deals with emotions that transcend his age and time. This can be seen in This Be The Verse, in which he very casually but forcefully tells his story. From the controversial beginning to the controversy of the content of the poem itself, what is sometimes forgotten is that this poem explores a quotidian theme, insular from the politics of the times of Larkin. This idea is reiterated in Mr Bleaney, where a very simple tone is set. Perhaps such poems are intentionally written like this because he wishes to reach an audience that understands the same emotions like him. The poetry of Larkin doesn’t explore modernist themes, it explores universal themes.

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