The Old Fools, By Philip Larkin

870 words - 3 pages

The twentieth century has provided the poetic universe with some of the most influential and prominent poets. The ideas and concepts conveyed by these poets have help to influence the works of other writers. Philip Arthur Larkin has been regarded as one of the greatest English poets of the latter half of the twentieth century. Most of Larkin’s poetry is condensed into four volumes of poetry: The North Ship, The Less Deceived, The Whitsun Weddings, and High Windows. His use of vulgar expressions helps to emphasize the main concept in his work and develops a unique writing style of his own. Using his own poetic technique, Larkin conveys his discontentment with his existence and shows the psychological suffering he endured throughout his life. By analyzing Larkin’s poetry, a reader can appreciate the uniqueness of his style and understand the significance of the concepts conveyed throughout his works. “The Old Fools” was published in, the fourth volume of poetry released during his lifetime, High Windows. It explores the idea of the speakers’ gerascophobia, or the fear of growing old, through analyzing the physical and mental deterioration of the elderly and their digression back into early childhood.
The descriptive language incorporated in this narrative helps to describe the physical characteristics of the elderly and allows the reader to understand the extent of the speaker’s fear of aging. Throughout this work the reader is greeted with various characteristics that are described in a stereotypical fashion to emphasize the minute flaws in the appearance of the elderly; “ash hair, toad hands, prune face dried into lines” (Larkin 1426). Using these characteristics, the reader can view the deterioration of youth’s beauty into old age and associate this deterioration with the process of body degeneration. “Do they somehow suppose/It's more grown-up when your mouth hangs open and drools, /and you keep on pissing yourself” (Larkin 1426). Utilizing vulgar phrases to articulate a feeling of disgust the speaker exposes his underlying fears. This mechanical deterioration of the body helps connect the speaker’s idea of an “inverted childhood” to the progression of age and its return to infancy, suggesting that over time, the mannerisms of the elderly digress back to a stage in early infancy (Larkin 1427). Incorporating this concept with the cognitive deterioration of the elderly helps further emphasize the notion of the speaker’s emotional fears of growing older.
The speaker exposes the idea of age-associated cognitive deterioration through the evidence expressed in the description of this stereotypical understanding of the elderly. Although aging contributes to an individual’s cerebral impairment, the speaker amplifies the extent that age has on the mental capabilities of...

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