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How typical in terms of subject, theme, structure and versification is 'Faith Healing' by Larkin?

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How typical in terms of subject, theme, structure and versification is 'Faith Healing' by Larkin? In 1964, Philip Larkin published his third book of poetry, entitled 'The Whitsun Weddings'. One of the many critically acclaimed poems was 'Faith Healing'. In this essay, I intend to explore how typical this poem is in terms of subject, theme, structure and versification. In Faith Healing, women flock to an American Faith Healer for a blessing. The persona of the poem is written from an outsider's point of view, looking in at this sight. Faith Healing is divided into three stanzas, each of ten lines. Iambic pentameter is used to give 5 major stresses to each of the 10 lines. The three stanzas actually contribute to the action of the poem. In the first stanza, the women go forward to the Faith Healer; in the second, they leave and 'Sheepishly stray'. Finally, the poem concludes with the third stanza where Larkin analyses the situation. This versification is indeed quite typical throughout The Whitsun Weddings. 'Here' is another poem from this collection, and Larkin again writes in iambic pentameter. He uses the traditional versification to describe a journey from an industrial city to a place where much more satisfaction can be gained. This journey was also mapped by the structure of the poem. Larkin wrote 4 stanzas and each one marked a progression in the journey. This is similar to Faith Healing where each stanza moves the story onto the next event or occurrence. ...read more.


There must be some satisfaction in this ladies life, flowers symbolize love and passion. Maybe this suggests that although the 'commercial love' mentioned in songs is unobtainable, there has actually been an element of love in this ladies life. In Here, Larkin describes the urban lifestyle of a 'cut-price crowd'. He tells how they have no real ambition in life and live very simply, from day to day. The people lack desire and are satisfied with their lives. They are shallow and their ideals are to keep living their basic lives with 'cheap suits' and 'red kitchen ware'. This strikes a similarity with Faith Healing. The women who visit the Faith Healer are originally content with their simple life and are just looking for something a little more. They have no real ambition and no major desires. Ironically, by the end of the poem, their emotions are truly evoked and they desire everything that they have missed out on in life, like compassion and love. Another prominent theme that is carried through most of these poems is that of time. In Here, Larkin describes how time fences us in. He is no longer working at our world of growth and decay, but is now looking at something beyond time. In a similar way, time fenced Mr Bleaney in and the 'one hired box should make him pretty sure He warranted no better'. Love Songs In Age also displays the passing of time. 'One bleached from lying in a sunny place'. ...read more.


This is interesting and explains why the majority of Larkin's poems are indeed extremely descriptive and omniscient. Another difference can be found in the concluding stanzas of Faith Healing and Mr Bleaney. Faith Healing concludes with Larkin's definite viewpoint that these women are now suffering. In Mr Bleaney, however, the ending of the poem is ominous. We are left wondering if Bleaney was preoccupied with limitations of human life or if he was living for the day? The poem ends, 'I don't know'. This indecisive ending, gives us the final verdict and we are left to answer the question ourselves. This is dissimilar to Faith Healing, where Larkin adopts a very sad, yet decisive conclusion. A final difference that I noted was that of a melancholic attitude. Love Songs In Age seems to suggest that we are never able to find the kind of love that we really desire whereas Faith Healing suggests that if these women had realised their loneliness earlier in life, they could have loved and been loved in return. This is only a slight difference; but is worth considering when asking the question of the typicality of Faith Healing. Overall, I feel that the similarities outweigh the differences and it can be concluded that Faith Healing is infact quite similar to a selection of the other poems in Whitsun Weddings. There are some differences and Faith Healing is unique in some respects, such as Larkin not experiencing this event personally. However, overall Faith Healing is a typical Larkin poem, with deprivation and loneliness as themes, iambic pentameter and enjambment as language features and with initially descriptive stanza's before moving on to conclude with a reflective and thoughtful panorama. ...read more.

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