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Larkin’s poetry often deals with the dissatisfaction of modern living and the reality of life today. With reference to at least two poems show how true this is.

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Introduction

Larkin's poetry often deals with the dissatisfaction of modern living and the reality of life today. With reference to at least two poems show how true this is. To answer this I will be looking at poems taken from Philip Larkin's collection 'The Whitsun Weddings.' The two poems I have chosen to focus on in more depth are 'MCMXIV' and 'A Study of Reading Habits' 'MCMXIV' has often been read as a nostalgic poem as it reflects the speakers desire to return to some earlier time in their life, but is also a poem tinged with sadness as it deals with the period before and immediately after World War One. It reflects the vanishing way of traditional English life and how the speaker is saddened by the changing world. As the title 'MCMXIV' suggests it is a poem, which looks at the past and in contrast to the reality of the world today. The detailed descriptions seem to suggest the speaker is looking at old photographs. Stanza one for example may show that the speaker is looking at on old photograph that shows, 'Long uneven lines standing as patiently as if they were stretched outside the oval...' These long lines maybe the queues of conscripts waiting to sign up to join the army. This shows how in the past people were very willing and eager to fight and even risk their own lives, and also how close the community was in 1914. ...read more.

Middle

The towns became a place where people feared they might be targeted by bombs and even the countryside changed. Young children were evacuated from large towns like London and moved into the countryside where they were safer. Men were called up for war so there were fewer people to grow and harvest crops. After the war, the country never did return to normality as it caused so much corruption and it took many years to rebuilt towns and cities. After world war one things had to change and people could only remember what was. This poet does it by looking at photographs and successfully recalls what the past was like and how he is dissatisfied with the reality of the world today. The next poem I will look at is called 'A Study of Reading Habits' and again Larkin looks at how he is dissatisfied with the reality of modern living. Philip Larkin's "A Study of Reading Habits," is the ironic difference between slang and formal language. The formal language in the title implies the poem is about drawing conclusions of people's reading habits. It also suggests that the poem is going to be very boring and in many ways puts the reader off from reading on. Instead, the poem is the confession of one man whose attitudes toward reading have slowly diminished to the point where books are nothing but 'a load of crap'. The poem is not about the man's reading habits, but the reality of his life. ...read more.

Conclusion

It presents a first-person speaker who has been unable to cope with the reality of his life and as a result has turned to an alternative ways to escape the reality of his life. The speaker has gone from being good to evil and vicious which is also shown by a change in his reading tastes, from adventure stories, to sexual novels, to not reading at all. The attitude he has toward reading is ironically reflected in his life, which is now 'a load of crap'. Again this poem reflects how the speaker is disappointed with the way his life is now, yet looking back it was better. Now it seems the speaker has given up and is no longer leading a happy lifestyle. The feeling he has for books is reflected in his life, because it is 'a load of crap' Both of these poems have strong feelings of dissatisfaction of the reality of living today. However I think 'MCMXIV' is the most successful at doing this as it creates a contrast between pre war lifestyles and the lifestyles of today. It also draws contrasts between the lifestyles of people in the town and those living in the countryside at the time of war in 1914. 'Never be such innocence again' is the sentence used to end the poem, which gives us a feeling of real let down and pathos and also disappointment. After the war things had to change even if people didn't want to change. People could only remember what was. Things had to move on, and things had to change. ...read more.

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