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Phillip Larkin 'Seeing and being seen is a main theme throughout Larkins collection High Windows' explore this theme

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Seeing and being seen is a main theme throughout Larkin's 'High Windows' collection. Comment on the role of such images in 3 poems in the collection. In this collection there is a running theme of seeing and being seen. The first poem I will refer to whilst exploring this idea is 'High Windows'. In this poem Larkin appears to be watching the younger generation, this was written at a time when the pill had just been invented and Larkin is shown to have resentment or jealousy for this vicarious freedom. The crude language used in the first stanza gives this impression; 'When I see a couple of kids And I guess he's fucking her...' This language along with the harsh 'k' sound throughout the stanza shows the bitterness and his longing for the freedom the younger generation have. 'I know this is paradise' shows the desire he feels. Larkin throughout many of his poems expresses his view of being old himself, he feels as if he is missing out on an opportunity and a freedom. He speaks of the old 'bonds and gestures [being] pushed to one side' explains how he can see all the old customs that he's used to have been forgotten, this again would make him feel old. ...read more.


he uses crude language to describe their actions and behaviour, 'and you keep pissing yourself' shows the lack of control people have over their bodies when they grow older and Larkin appears to almost be mocking this. He then moves on to describe how he sees them sat in 'thin continuous dreaming' or 'watching light move' seeing as they haven't got the ability to do anything else. Larkin expresses his frustration, 'why aren't they screaming?' represents how Larkin doesn't understand why they don't put up a fight against old age. This phrase can be related to a poem by Dylan Thomas - 'do not go gently into that good night...rage, rage against the coming of the night.' Larkin now starts to speak about death. 'At death you break up: the bits that were you Start speeding away from each other for ever' This describes how all the experiences you have are gone, how your mind and body disintegrate and how there is nothing beyond. 'With no one to see' gives the impression of no God and no one is able to see you when you're buried in the ground. In the third stanza Larkin speaks of 'lightened rooms inside your head'. ...read more.


'there came a tremor' marks when the explosion happened, very little was felt above ground but the sun was 'scarfed in a heat-haze, dimmed'. Larkin uses this to create a freeze frame. We now skip time and move on to the funeral and the eulogy and then comes possibly one of the most significant stanzas throughout the collection where the 'wives saw men of the explosion' and instead of being dirty and covered in soot as they were seen before they are now seen to be 'larger than life' and 'gold as in a coin'. This contrasts and gives Larkin the transendant moment he has been looking for throughout the whole collection. The men have been spiritually transformed and glorified as if angelic. This sight challenges Larkin's atheist beliefs, where he usually sees death as nothingness he appears to accept the fact that the wives have in fact seen their husbands and that the men appear 'walking somehow from the sun towards them'. This gives the impression that there may be something after death and ends the collection on a very positive note. This sighting of the wives is therefore very key to the collection as Larkin finally finds what he is looking for and some meaning through this vision. ...read more.

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