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In What Ways Does Philip Larkin’s Poetry Show His Attitude To Death?

2559 words - 10 pages

In what ways does Larkin's poetry show his attitude to death? In Philip Larkin's poetry there is a profound sense of unease about death. Larkin, throughout his poetry, obviously contemplates the inevitable end that is death. In his poetry Larkin uses great observational skills, noting and writing about everyday circumstances in cinematic detail. With death, though, Larkin has nothing to observe. He cannot draw any precise conclusions about something that he has not directly experienced. I think, therefore, that Larkin shows a fear of death through his poetry, but also a deep fascination with it.I intend to show Larkin's attitude to death through a number of his poems. In these poems Larkin certainly does show a fascination with death, but hopefully I will also show that Larkin's attitude is not completely negative and that Larkin may see that death can have a redeeming end.The first poem from my selection that I will use is "˜Ambulances', a poem where even the title suggests relation to death. In "˜Ambulances' the emphasis is definitely placed upon death, the first line actually hints upon Larkin's attitude to death. He begins by setting a very sombre image within the reader's mind, saying "Closed like confessionals"¦" An almost dooming phrase. The instant image given by this one line is dread. Most people dread going to confession and the thought of disclosing one's secrets and sins can make it seem even more daunting. Larkin actually had no love for religion, in fact it was quite the opposite, and the comparison made between ambulances and confessionals can actually be seen as an attack on ambulances, showing that they are a front, concealing the inevitable. The comment upon the path that they take ""¦they thread Loud noons of cities" may be used to represent death being everywhere, and like a thread it is woven into our lives. One may also see a religious reference within this phrase, showing that God who is supposedly with us always is now replaced with death looming over us. Even amongst the vibrancy and lively atmosphere of the city, perhaps even a rush hour, death still looms.We see Larkin's great observation; he almost absorbs everything he sees, " ... giving back None of the glances they absorb.Light glossy grey, arms on a plaque." Larkin sees as ambulances as representing death, which takes life, carrying it off but never returning it. He also shows not only his own fascination with death, but also the fascination all people have. Whenever people see the ambulance they immediately stare.The imagery of death as Light glossy grey, arms on a plaque and They come to rest on any kerb creates an impression upon the reader making them look at their own mortality and they realise that death is the one truth we all must encounter Larkin is bleakly honest when he says "All streets in time are visited..." This clearly shows that death is also common in all places and paints a picture for the reader to understand."Then...

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