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Larkin has been accused of a lack of sympathy in his poetry, based on your reading of four poems (Mr. Bleaney, Afternoons, Ambulances, Dockery and son) how fair is their criticism?

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Larkin has been accused of a lack of sympathy in his poetry, based on your reading of four poems (Mr. Bleaney, Afternoons, Ambulances, Dockery and son) how fair is their criticism? Larkin saw himself as a writer of 'someone who recorded the times and places with realism and irony'. A reoccurring theme of death is shown throughout all the poems within 'The Whitsuns Weddings', this theme is closely linked to sympathy. By exploring a sensitive subject tactlessly, the poet's lack of sympathy creates controversy over his work, but also could be used to simply emphasise his messages more explicitly to the reader. Sympathy is generally evoked through emotive language and structure within the poem. Mr. Bleaney is an objective collaboration of characteristics about a lonely mans life and his solitary achievements exposed by examining his possessions. The character closely resembles Larkin's life, as they are both lonely, without commitment and family. The way, in which Larkin describes his room as having "No room for books" creates a cultural distance between them, as Larkin was an enthusiastic book reader, this shows that he is uncomfortable with the similarity between their lives and has to create this difference. Two of the poems, Ambulances and Mr. Bleaney are about an anonymous person who has died, the reconstruction of Mr. Bleaney's life employs pathos, as it contains regretful and negative imagery such as, "and at his age having no more to show", sympathy can be evoked by this as it engages the reader by allowing them to relate to there own similar situations or circumstances. ...read more.


The poem contains four stanza's each containing six lines, and a regular rhyme. This continuity could be interpreted, as symbolising the continuity of death, enforcing that death is evitable. Dockery and Son focuses on marriage and children, the conventions of life. This poem differs from the other three, as it appears more personal due to its autobiographical style and less object like the other three. 'Afternoon's' is also a poem containing themes of relationships. The title 'Afternoons' implies 'the middle', as it is the middle of the day. This could also be symbolising the middle of life, or being middle aged, as Larkin was middles aged when writing this poem, linking to the themes and narratives within the poems. The second line in the first stanza, "fall in ones and twos", symbolises this idea of relationships within the poem. The poem appears to be challenging relationships, engaging the reader as middle-aged ideology consists of relationships and family. Within both of these poems Larkin writes about means of transport, the train was recently constructed in England at this time and was seen as 'linking the whole country together', therefore Larkin's poetry could be interpreted as being communicated to the whole country as everyone can relate to the inevitability of death, or that the idea of travelling could represent the 'journey of life'. Whereas previously Larkin has questioned death and criticised people's negligence to it, he accepts it without inquiring; this could result in evoking more sympathy within the poem. ...read more.


To conclude, each of these poems uses negative imagery to convey themes of death and to emphasis criticisms of conventional living. The use of repetition within the poems enforces messages to the reader and also allows the reader to absorb the messages Larkin is conveying making them more effective. The way in which Larkin explicitly discusses death and criticises the reader, labels him as unsympathetic, but readers who can relate to him will sympathies with his sense of non-fulfilment and disappointment. The use of personification when describing death within all four poems almost creates emotive language through imagery as it allows the reader to understand death by giving it characteristics therefore evoking sympathy. In response to the criticism of Larkin, in my opinion it is fair to say, as Larkin does not use sympathy, but the way in which he chooses not to, therefore allows him to be original. The explicitness of his messages creates more effectiveness and signposts them to the reader, which engages them in thought and furthermore, with interest. The harsh unsympathetic tone also links with Larkin's own fear of the subject and symbolises deaths harsh, cruel mannerism, creating realism and effect. The way in which all of the poems contain a constant rhyming pattern could also be used to symbolise the inevitability of death. Larkin's rebellion against romanticism, makes him a shocking and controversial poet, this is influenced by Thomas Hardy and D.H. Lawrence which consequently gave him his sense of individuality and therefore further effectiveness in poetry. ?? ?? ?? ?? Lucy Atwell English Lit Miss. Buggins 08/05/2007 ...read more.

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