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How Can Philip Larkin's Poetry Be Used To Address The Marginal Or Neglected?

1854 words - 7 pages

The ‘marginal or neglected’ can be seen to refer to individuals, a class or nation, to ideas that have been marginalised, to neglected forms such as poetry, and to the marginalised self. Philip Larkin is renowned for his use of the colloquial in his poetry, and he renews the importance of everyday language and words, that have been ‘neglected’ and ‘marginalised’ in forms of expression. His poems have the “tone of the ordinary day”. Through this use of language, he reflects on the loss of identity and to the neglected state of England due to modernisation and industrialisation. Poetry itself is a specialist form; however Larkin’s poetry can be seen as homely and less dramatic. He brought back poetry as a relevant and accessible medium, as it is easily marginalised. Larkin is a poet who concentrates on ‘absence’ and ‘reality’, the mundane, small and intricate aspects of everyday life that are important, but often ignored. He depicts an English post-war setting, struggling with destitution and despair, affectively describing dislocated humanity within the disruption of modernism. His poetry produces a sense of agency, and his own marginalisation and loneliness is also reflected.Larkin’s poem, ‘Maiden Name’ is a meditation on identity, memory, language and tradition. He represents the ‘name’ as a disposable object, commenting on the preserving of values and the loss of them. The new consumerist age of ‘disposal’ can be seen to be referred to here. He creates a sense of an unused, neglected old self and a past identity that has been lost through marriage. The woman’s maiden name has been used and neglected, being “a phrase applicable to no one” (l.8).The use of iambic metre gives weight to Larkin’s everyday language, emphasising how easy it is to ‘lose’ your identity. The meter makes a seemingly congested line easy to read, as the stresses make it flow naturally; for example, “It means what we feel now about you then” (l.15). The rhythm reflects the want to ‘take time leisurely’, rather than being hasty, as perhaps the marriage in the poem was rushed, leading the woman to forget the past as she was “thankfully confused” (l.4). Larkin does not say that the name ‘means’ the person, he says it meant her “face” and “voice” (ll.2-3), and that “it was of her that these two words were used” (l.7), being “applicable” (l.8) like an adjective. The word and the person are never completely melded, reflecting the disunion between a name and the self. This ‘disunion’ is reflected in the last line of the second stanza; “No, it means you. Or, since you’re past and gone” (l.14), suggesting that the woman’s self is past, whilst her previous name still exists. Larkin uses relatively commonplace words, but their simplicity emphasises...

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