Theme of religion in Philip Larkin's Church Going

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Church Going Philip Larkin's Church Going reflects upon the place of churches in society and how they will last. Larkin bases the poem on his experience when visiting a church. Throughout the poem, Larkin moves towards a general, universal statement: religion will survive, even after churches fall into disrepair. In the poem, the narrator initially identifies the deterioration of churches. Larkin's word choice in stanzas 1: "brownish", "musty" and "sprawlings" give the impression of something uncared for. Brownish and musty , in particular suggest decay. Sprawlings connotes spread out in a disordered fashion. The negative description of the church shows the narrator's first impression. Larkin's description of the poor condition of the churches progresses to show his lack of admiration for churches. Larkin in "Church Going" puts forth the view that he is unimpressed by churches.


The narrator has already identified that churches are fading but now he wonders what will happen to the buildings when they "completely fall out of use". This is where the poem shifts and begins moving towards the general, universal statement. Larkin's poem has a weak rhyme scheme. Larkin's weak rhymes such as "here" and "idea" in stanza 6 and "were" and "myrrh" in stanza 5 suggest uncertainty and weak ideas. The narrator in the later stages of the poem is doubting his initial thoughts, realising there is more to the church than he first thought , and is struggling to come to a conclusion. This is also shown in stanzas 4 - 6 as he asks a lot of questions including: "what remains when disbelief is gone?". This doubt shows the progression of the narrators ideas as he questions himself.


The narrator says it is being in the church that pleases him not specifically the church. This suggests that the importance is the associated ideas of the church that matter. It is at this point the narrator concludes. The final stanza is where the narrator draws the conclusion. He says that he is "gravitating with it to this ground". It is the church site that is important and the significance of the church outweighs the importance of the physical building. The narrator feels that the "blent air all our compulsions meet, Are recognised, and robed as destinies...can never be obsolete". The narrator is saying that the area is so important to so many people that the place will never truly fade. "Robed as destinies" suggests the ordainment, the validation, of such important life events, such as the marriage, death and births mentioned earlier. The final statement is concluded in the last stanza. ?? ?? ?? ??

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