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A comparison of Philip Larkin's The Explosion and WH Auden's Funereal Blues.

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Introduction

A comparison of Philip Larkin's The Explosion and WH Auden's Funereal Blues Philip Larkin was born in the north of England in 1922. He spent most of his life there, working as a librarian. The poem, The Explosion is a reflection of a disastrous day in a northern mining town. The story unfolds in eight stanzas with three lines and one final stanza of one line. The Explosion is a story told in the third person. In the first stanza the impression is of a fairly detached observer, almost as if a camera is recording the events. The poem begins with a casual observation of an everyday event. The miners come down "the lane in pitboots coughing oath-edged talk and pipe-smoke". (Line 4-5) Underneath the normality of morning, we get a sense of something sinister and foreboding as "Shadows pointed towards the pithead: In the sun the slagheap slept" (lines 2-3). The use of alliteration and repeated "S" sounds creates a sensation of deathly anticipation as if some sinister creature is sleeping. ...read more.

Middle

Stanza six is the funeral service and it has a biblical feel. During this service the wives have a vision of their men "Somehow from the sun walking towards them," (line 24) In their religious imaginations the men have been transformed into "larger than life" "gold" images. The women will forever remember the men in this pure and whole form. Solemnity is replaced by a sense of hope. "One showing the eggs unbroken" is the final and most symbolic line. The eggs represent life and renewal. In the face of death we have the choice of either except death and move forwards with life or to slide into oblivion. The image of the eggs surviving the explosion is a symbol of optimism. The wives must move on and cope with life and death. The eggs may also represent the memory and strength of the women's bonds and love. Wystan Hugh Auden was born in New York in 1907. He spent his childhood in Birmingham in the north of England. ...read more.

Conclusion

The overstatements are appropriate and very moving. The use of tragic comical images balances the poems extreme emotions. The poet does not appear as self-indulgent, but heart-rending and tragic. Conversely, Larkin's poem deals with death and the roughness of humanity in a down to earth way. Unlike the speaker in the Stop All The Clocks, this speaker is distanced from the action and emotions of death. There is an absence of dramatic intensity. Notice how in the aftermath of The Explosion rescue and grief are unmentioned. Both poems are trying to convey a sense of empathy. The speaker in The Explosion shows sympathy toward the wives. He tries to give the wives a sense of optimism and transform a sad and pointless accident into an occasion of hope and beauty. The speaker of Stop All The Clocks seeks the sympathy of the reader. He needs to transfer to the reader the feelings of his loss, despair and his sense of injustice that death brings. In contrast to the end of The Explosion this final stanza tells us that he has no optimism "for nothing now can ever come to any good" (line 16) Poetry Essay Beverley Fielden Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

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