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AS and A Level: Philip Larkin

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  • Marked by Teachers essays 3
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    Larkin is often portrayed as being obsessed by death, but High Windows is as much about life as it is about death. How true do you find this statement?

    5 star(s)

    Its height is repeated in the 4th stanza as evidence of its importance within today's society. The comparison with the 'handsomest hotel' suggests that is far more important to everyone than anything that the commercial world can bring: emphasising that death will eventually come to us all. The 'guests' might never leave, and its porters are scruffy which slowly reveals to the reader that the building in question is in fact a hospital. The final giveaway is the 'frightening smell' which everybody associates with hospitals and creates a sense of unease.

    • Word count: 1393
  2. Marked by a teacher

    The Recurring Theme of Death in the Poetry of Philip Larkin.

    4 star(s)

    Larkin can be violently energetic as well, and so deep is his embitterment at times that he believes himself to be maliciously tricked out of something he had originally been entitled to - although he is very vague about who or what it was that cheated him, or the nature of his initial hopes. An illustrative case in point is the title of his second substantial volume of verse, The Less Deceived. This title is somewhat ambiguous, in that it can be understood either as a nominal or an adjectival construction, but if it is read as "those who are

    • Word count: 1399
  3. Marked by a teacher

    An 'A' Level candidate described Larkin as a "grumpy, old, git". Based on High Windows how far do you agree with this statement?

    3 star(s)

    It portrays a man whom cannot relate to the Youth of today but instead envies the opportunities which he himself missed e.g. the sexual freedom from the revolution, a concurrent theme in the anthology. From this a sense of bitterness is shown, alongside his despair at this generation's impact on his beloved England as noted in 'Going Going' "But what do I feel now? Doubt? Or age simply?....their kids are screaming for more". This demonstrates how Larkin views his generation to have reached a point in society where their impact is limited and contributions ignored, control no longer lies with them but instead younger generations.

    • Word count: 1848
  4. Here is unfenced existence, from Here by Phip Larkin. Both he and Dannie Abse both have a strong sense of place in their poetry, however Abse discusses his homeland with more regard for memory,

    In 'Here', Larkin appears to be critical of the urban population, "residents from raw estates", finding more beauty and appeal in the natural world than the human world, demonstrated by the fact that human presence in the poem is only temporary, fading away after the third stanza. The poem is fitted into four octets with an irregular rhyme scheme eg. ABABCDEF in stanza one and in stanza two, ABBACCDCD, which perhaps represents the contrasting surroundings of England which differ everywhere you go.

    • Word count: 1244
  5. In Philip Larkins poem, This Be the Verse, he uses strong language to get across his message of that no one should have children.

    Larkin perhaps made them short in order to get his message across to the reader. If there is more text, the message would not be as clear and easy to find like in this poem. The first line of this poem, starts out with an altered syntax. It sounds as if Larkin is starting in the middle of his thoughts and just wrote it on the piece of paper without much thought. In addition he uses a swear word. This immediately grabs the attention of the reader. Depending on the type of reader, some may think that this is offence that he is using such language, however, others may think that he is revolutionary for using the work in something sophisticated like a poem.

    • Word count: 828
  6. Do you find Larkins verse critical of ordinary people or does he champion their cause?

    This represents the idea that the speaker is not satisfied with being out of work on an afternoon and thus shows that Larkin does not enjoy being one of the ordinary people. He paints a very negative picture of the men you find in a park at this time; "palsied old step-takers; waxed-flesh out-patients; characters in long coats" which conveys an idea of a group of poor, ill and troublesome people and a group that the speaker is keen to distance himself from.

    • Word count: 1027
  7. Arundel Tomb

    The tension between these two viewpoints is explored in 'An Arundel Tomb.' Larkin wrote this poem after seeing a medieval tomb in Chichester Cathedral, of the Earl of Arundel and his wife. The first two lines sets the scene, 'Side by side, their faces blurred, The earl and countess lie in stone,' The earl and countess are 'vaguely shown', in their 'proper habits'; that is, their formal attire, but proper also in the sense of being appropriate for a particular occasion or event.

    • Word count: 2435
  8. Free essay

    Theme of religion in Philip Larkin's Church Going

    Larkin in "Church Going" puts forth the view that he is unimpressed by churches. He describes them as "another church" : it's the same as the others and there is nothing that makes it stand out. While musing whether the church's roof is new or been cleaned Larkin says: "Someone must know: I don't ". This is very dismissive. The narrator does not appreciate the cosmetic effort. The narrator also talks about donating money to the church and draws the conclusion that "the place was not worth stopping for". Larkin struggles to understand the significance or the importance of churches.

    • Word count: 744
  9. Compare the ways in which larkin and abse write about love in their poems

    "Such plainness of the pre-baroque Hardly involves the eye, until it meets his left-hand gauntlet, still clasped empty in the other; and one sees, with a sharp tender shock, His hand withdrawn, holding her hand." The poem uses powerful imagery which relates and mirrors the ambiguity and paradox of love and life. "Hand withdrawn, holding her hand" this emphasizes a romantic sentimental image. "Side by side, the faces blurred uses caesura to add emphasis to their "faces blurred" which although it creates the image of erosion it also creates an image although they are dead something is still there, and that "something" is the love they share.

    • Word count: 1097
  10. Essay analysis on 'an Arundel Tomb'

    and how long it has been since they had lived and felt this 'love', as it shows the stone has begun to corrode. This is perhaps also a metaphor for their feelings towards one another; they have also corroded like the stone. The truth of their love is 'blurred'. This demonstrates another key theme in this poem, time and how it can 'transfigure' the truth. As time erodes their identity leaving only an 'attitude', time also preserves this 'untruth' in 'effigy'.

    • Word count: 943
  11. 'Here' by Phillip Larkin; an analytical study

    The word swerving is used again to continue the movement of the poem that began in the first line. The "harsh-named halt" is a station stop and the "workmen at dawn" are arguably the workers who build and maintain train tracks. The negative beginning of the first stanza becomes a positive end as the poet reaches countryside. The poet swerves again but this time he is "swerving to solitude of skies and scarecrows" The skies and scarecrows invoke an image of countryside and farms and we can get the impression that the poet prefers the company of nature to the company of people.

    • Word count: 888
  12. A Critical Appreciation of Toads Revisited

    In the second line the words 'should feel better than work' cast a dim shadow over the scene, and quickly change the audience's idea of the poems mood. He begins to list characteristics in a melancholy tone, a typical technique of the persona when he is uninspired. He portrays the children's voices in the playground as 'blurred', to give the impression that the persona's mind is elsewhere. One theme that shows at one point in the text is that of a rather sexist nature.

    • Word count: 967
  13. How typical is the style and content of The Old Fools in Larkin's High Windows?

    The cynicism and sarcasm that he often uses in the collection do not detract from the more serious overtones of the poems, but they do 'lighten the mood', coupled with a use of more uplifting imagery that hints at non-Christian religon. "...all the time merging with a unique endavour / To bring to bloom the million petalled flower / Of being here..." The flower in this image is remniscent of a Buddhist lotus flower, perhaps suggesting that although a Christian heaven cannot offer a solution, the Buddhist theory of reincarnation and natural regeneration could be more appropriate.

  14. Discuss the distinctive qualities and effects of the poem Mr Bleaney.

    The lack of pride Mr Bleaney felt for the room is shown in the deficiency of home comforts. The 'upright chair' and 'no hook behind the door' symbolises the pragmatic nature of Mr Bleaney's life, he didn't make an impression on the room. The use of 'sixty watt' bulb reinforces the idea of an eerie glow, evocative of the theme of loneliness. The description of the flowered curtains as 'thin and frayed' coupled with the 'fusty bed' evokes the idea of decay and the inconsequentiality of his existence.

    • Word count: 1066
  15. To what extent, in terms of subject matter and style, do you consider 'High Windows' to be an appropriate title poem for the collection?

    He often chooses to rhyme between stanzas, and this is clearly a very conscious and crafted decision. Larkin also makes use of traditional poetic forms - for example, The Card-Players takes the form of a sonnet. The fact he has chosen to use free verse could show that High Windows has a modern setting, unlike The Card-Players which is a narrative set around the 17th century. It could also be a suggestion that the collection deals largely with universal and simplistic theme such as life and death, and thus the simplicity of the rhyme scheme epitomises this.

    • Word count: 1356
  16. Discuss Larkin's evocation of locations and place in this anthology and assess its significance in his poetry. You should refer to a number of poems in the collection.

    Larkin's poem 'Here' presents an evocative representation of Hull during the 50's and also relates to the understanding of Larkin as the poet of provincial England. The poem however is encompassed in bias as Larkin represents his own opinions of the town which may not reflect other residents' views. 'Here' shows elements of both urban and more rural areas, the actual here Larkin is referring to within the title remains a mystery and here is ever changing with both time and movement, in an industrial sense and as the train passes through different areas.

    • Word count: 1209
  17. Larkin - Churchgoing and High Windows

    It was followed by two novels, JILL (1946) and A GIRL IN WINTER (1947). Among Larkin's major works are THE LESS DECEIVED (1955) and THE WHITSUN WEDDINGS (1964), in which the title-poem describing the poet's journey by train from Hull to London is his best-known works. Larkin used the tones and rhythms of ordinary speech, and focused on the urban landscape of the industrial north. Although he had number of affairs, Larkin feared marriage and family, never married and was known for being a bit of loner. He managed to maintain three long relationships - most of his life Larkin spent with Monica Jones whom he met when he was 24.

    • Word count: 1630
  18. Using 3 poems, explore Larkin's contemplations on time

    Larkin attempts to display that remembering the past only brings momentary happiness of the memory. This is shown in the first stanza when going through the covers and she finds one that was 'coloured by her daughter'. As well as showing the passage of time, the covers also present time as a destructive force since the covers have been 'bleached', 'marked' and 'coloured'. However, the widow tried to rebel against time as she mended one cover 'when a tidy fit has seized her' and perhaps this can also be the motivation for the series of indentations in the poem to persistently try to stop time.

    • Word count: 1055
  19. Compare the Ways in which Plath and Larkin explore ideas about Parenthood in their poems

    This poem infers that children are a sacrifice of life but says that marriage couple are selfish in that they only marry for society's sake, 'he married a woman to stop her getting away', which suggests an indication of oppression of female individuality as well. However, Larkin then goes on to suggest an oppression of the husband; 'Arnold' has no voice or opinion throughout the poem, although neither does the 'wife', who through not having a name is relegated to being an object rather than a person.

    • Word count: 1531
  20. Explore the themes and attitudes of Phillip Larkin's

    The third and last lines of the first stanza are ended with a dash. This creates a pause for the reader and therefore the impression that time has stayed still. The poet also shows the image of times stopping through the description of the white steamer. "A white steamer stuck in the afternoon-" The use of the word "stuck" along with the dash, gives the impression that time has stopped. The overall tone and feeling of the first verse is that of delight and pleasure that the poet has been able to step back into their memory, and is pleased to find that all of their joyful memories have remained and stood still in time.

    • Word count: 1395
  21. A Practical Criticism on 'Here by Phillip Larkin 'Here' was published in 1964 as part of a collection of poems collectively titled 'The Whitsun Weddings'

    The first line describes the effect that the industrial revolution has had on society with its 'rich industrial shadows'. The adjective 'rich' offers images of wealth and prosperity which would be a result of the industrial advancement of the town. However this positivism is withdrawn with the noun 'shadows' placed in juxtaposition, which pragmatically suggests that the light is being blocked out and therefore, personified as a living organism, the town cannot grow and flourish. The effect of nature on life is mirrored in the movement of the 'widening river's slow presence'. The river gives an impression of reassurance, and endurance over industrialism.

    • Word count: 944
  22. Consider the impact of the last few liens of a poem you have studied, referring closely to the language of the whole poem, examine how well these lines act as a conclusion to the whole poem. Afternoons by Philip Larkin.

    The last lines sum up the fact that the pressures of society have forced the mothers into the dull lives that they are currently living. The idea that the young mothers have lost their lives is developed through the whole of the poem. It is effectively introduced in the opening lines of the poem where the poet states "Summer is fading Leaves fall in ones and twos, from Trees bordering the recreation ground" Summer is a metaphor for the lives of the young mothers which are fading away.

    • Word count: 893
  23. Discuss the effectiveness and significance of Larkin's evocation of place in his poetry with reference to three poems.

    This instantly indicates the negative tone of the poem and points out Larkin's lack of belonging. The poem employs several simple sentences for dramatic effect, these also emphasise the negativity within the poem. The simple sentences could also be interpreted as demonstrating frustration of the poet. "The music in the piano stool. That vase." These appear to employ an aggressive tone through bluntness. Larkin's negative language such as, "long fallen wide" and "how things ought to be", could also be used to demonstrates the ideas of a failed romantic, which is a predominate idea within the collection.

    • Word count: 1322
  24. 'Larkin is often thought of as a gloomy poet, describing life and the world around him in a drab and depressing manner.' Explore this idea in light of your reading of 'This Be the Verse'.

    When you relate the message of the poem though to Larkin's own unique childhood, you can begin to try to understand the venom of the poem's tone and meaning. Larkin, brought up in a secure, middle class family background found his childhood quite intimidating. His father was very masculine and showed some support for Hitler's Nazi party. He once took Larkin to Nazi Germany for a summer holiday. It is quite likely that some of the resentment Larkin felt for his own childhood has transferred into his poems as a broader, all-round message for all.

    • Word count: 1158
  25. The Theme of Time in The Two Poems, 'Days' and 'Toads Revisited'

    Larkin answers it with a simple monosyllabic response, "Days are where we live". For such a broad and open question this is a very closed, unrefined answer. This could be a reflection of Larkin's view on the meaning of life, that he feels it is not important to search for a complex answer. I get the impression that Larkin is tired of life and its repetitive structure, "They come they wake us, time and time over" this is shown by his impassionate language and monosyllabic style. Its seems as if he feels time is passing too slowly.

    • Word count: 604

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Marriage of the familiar with the unexpected makes the 'Whitsun Weddings' Larkin's most satisfying collection of poems." - Simon Petch - Discuss how this applies to the 'Whitsun Weddings'

    "In my opinion, I feel that the 'Whitsun Weddings' is a satisfying collection. I think this because they cover a variety of emotions in an effective way. I also think that with the type of personality that Larkin had, it would have been very easy for him to have been tempted into letting his negative views on life and situations spill over into his writing. Instead, he manages to balance good with bad, and put some of his stronger personal views aside to create effective poems. Larkin does keep a lot of his viewpoints in his poetry as and when relevant which adds a more personal touch to his poetry and even give readers a different insight on situations of everyday life."

  • Compare the ways in which Larkin and Abse create a sense of place in their poems.

    "In conclusion, the stark difference between the sense of place created in Larkin and Abse’s poetry is the sense of attachment. Whilst Larkin is detached, Abse feels sentimentally specifically towards his hometown and country. However, it could be argued that sense of sadness created by each poet stems from different reasoning, as Abse is sad due to his attachment to a place, whilst Larkin is generally detached from both place and people."

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