Philip Larkin: Poems

Changing Seasons Metaphor in 'Mother, Summer, I' 12th Grade

In ‘Mother, Summer, I’, through a mother and son’s shared distaste for summer weather, Larkin focuses on the dangers of ‘perfection’ which works to hide underlying issues and faults of any given situation. Larkin, through the extended metaphor of changing seasons, hones into the faults and negativity ingrained into a relationship between a mother and her child, and whilst the speaker is characterised as eager to rejuvenate a healthy relationship with his mother- the structure of the poem warns of the ultimate futility of this quest.

In the poem, Larkin uses the transition between the seasons summer and autumn as a metaphor for the fluctuating emotions felt within a mother-son relationship. Imagery surrounding warm weather in the first stanza is immediately eclipsed by a bleak autumn setting in the lines ‘brittle frost/ Sharpens the bird-abandoned air’, in order to mark out rainy weather as able to sedate and subdue the ‘suspicions’ and negative feelings brought on by summer. Indeed, the alliterated plosive ‘b’s’ of this lines further hone into autumn’s capacity to ‘sharpen’ and clarify the mother’s mindset, with the compound adjective ‘bird-abandoned’ perhaps used as a metaphor for the lack of worries in the mother’s mind once...

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