The Whitsun Weddings

Presence of Failure and Disappointment in The Whitsun Weddings

‘A record of failure and disappointment’ is a reductive assessment of a poignant collection of poetry that explores the nature of existence and the conflicts, contrasts and contradictions of life. Larkin presents experience in a mixture of delicate tones (“your hands, tiny in all that air”), stark criticisms (“grim head-scarfed wives”) and moving ambiguity (“Here is unfenced existence / Facing the sun, untalkative, out of reach.”) The complexity and variety of emotions presented in the collection leaves any attempt of a conclusive definition incomplete. Although the collection contains themes of failure and disappointment, both for the poet and universally, this alone cannot describe the collection. Larkin presents the uncertainty and fickle nature of humanity and criticises a culture that has lost essence with unnatural “nylon gloves, and jewellery substitutes”. Warren Hope (1997) described Larkin as having “a human obsession with lost possibilities and potential.”

Poems such as ‘Love Songs in Age’, ‘Home is So Sad’ and ‘Faith Healing’ justify the view that The Whitsun Weddings considers failures and disappointment, particularly failure to satisfy and fulfill expectations and the disappointment that follows. Different...

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