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Explore the themes and attitudes of Phillip Larkin's

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Introduction

With close reference to the poem, say what interests you about the way in which the poet writes. Explore the themes, ideas and attitudes you perceive in the poem. After reading the poem for the first time, I felt that it conveyed a general sense of satisfaction. But after studying the poem closely, other aspects suggest a feeling of disappointment that the poet has. This becomes particularly clear after the change in perspective in the last verse. Everything seems to have altered from its original perfection. The main theme that features throughout the poem is one of time. In the first stanza, the poet illustrates what he sees when he revisits the seaside and is flooded with memories of past times spent here. The poet uses lots of adjectives to describe the activities going on, "Steep beach, blue water, towels, red bathing caps, warm yellow sand." The poet creates an unreal and clich�d appearance of the scene by using primary colours for adjectives. This is emphasised by the onomatopoeic effect of "hushed waves' repeated fresh collapse" which furthers the idea of the perfect destination. The poet also creates the image that time has stopped, firstly through the use of punctuation. The third and last lines of the first stanza are ended with a dash. ...read more.

Middle

They explain what their experience was like and what sort of things they used to do whilst at the seaside. "I searched the sand for famous cricketers." Here, the poet tells his memory of when he was a child looking over the sand for cricket cards that used to be collectable. This shows the poet's typical personal experience when they went to the seaside with their parents, like any other family. The poet again repeats the theme of time by discussing how different generations visit this place and how they continue it on. The poet mentions how their parent met there, and praises the unity the place brings. It is about the cycle of life, how the numerous visits to the seaside are repeated by the next generation. The poet then switches from memories to the present, talking about what they can see, "strange to it now." The use of 'strange' shows the realisation that there are some clear differences and that his memories are so far in the past that they are odd in comparison. The poet then goes on to describe the perfect scene that they can see now, "I watch over the cloudless scene: the same clear water over smoothed pebbles." This description appears to be of happiness and shows how the environment is unspoiled. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows the naivety of the first verse contrasting to the mature last verse. I think that this represents the poet maturing over the time since they last visited the scene. I think that the ending of the poem is excellent and very successful; "coming to the water clumsily undressed yearly; teaching their children by a sort of clowning; helping the old, too, as they ought." I like this ending because it emphasises the value of family life and celebrates the ties of love. The poem shows that despite changes of the seaside, family still always remains stable. In conclusion, I think that the poem has a feeling of disappointment that isn't brought to the reader until late in the poem. The poet wants the reader to understand the unexpected disappointment they experienced on returning to the seaside. The poet is portraying their own feelings that they felt when writing the poem and realised that time has passed and spoiled the perfection of memories from childhood. The poet tries to show the reader that the past was better than the present and the modern changes in society are not for the better, but are just ruining the past. I found the constant change between past and present in the poem extremely confusing and I found it hard to distinguish between the different tenses. But I think that the poet maybe has done this on purpose to show readers that change is confusing and sometimes cannot be explained. ...read more.

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