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What interests you about Larkin's use of language and verse form in three of the poems you have studied so far?

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Introduction

What interests you about Larkin's use of language and verse form in three of the poems you have studied so far? The poems that I have chosen to comment on from the collection The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin are Here, Nothing to be said and Faith Healing. I have chosen to write about these three because they are all very different in terms of theme, language, verse form and Larkin's message and purpose. Here is the opening poem of The Whitsun Weddings. It locates the reader in Larkin's England and centres around a journey the protagonist is making from London to Northumberland via Larkin's hometown of Hull. Larkin uses a range of language and writing devices to express his feelings and at times his prejudices through his poetry and he does this especially well in Here. The first stanza begins with "swerving east". The word "swerving" suggests a dangerous movement and a lack of control from the person or thing that is swerving. When someone swerves it is usually to avoid something so by using the word "swerving" Larkin is immediately presenting the reader with a sense of avoidance and lack of control. Larkin then goes on to say that the fields are "too thin and thistled to be called meadows". This shows that he is passing through an area of land, which cannot quite be classed as countryside but is not quite urban. This could possibly be a representation of how Larkin is feeling at the time about life because even the countryside is not genuine; therefore Larkin may be commenting on the falsity of life because of its in-between state. The words "Thin" and "thistled" are harsh sounding words that make up alliteration. This alliteration may have been used to mimic the gentle hissing sound of the train or can moving along the track or road. The harsh sounding words are probably applied as a vent for Larkin's disdain on a philosophical level for the falsity and lack of true ...read more.

Middle

Larkin's use of verse form is particularly interesting in Here because stanzas one and five have the same rhyme scheme, as do stanzas two and four. This could have been done to create the greatest possible contrast between the urban living in stanza two and the peacefulness and tranquillity in stanza five. The chaos of the towns and cities the protagonist passes echoes the chaos in his mind and is shown through the verse structure and the lack of full stops through the majority of the poem. The second poem I have chosen to study is Nothing to be said which despite its extreme pessimism is actually my favourite poem of the collection that I have read so far. It is another poem that looks at people's lives and it raises the issues of fear of death and isolation. The general message of the poem it that it doesn't matter where you are from or what race you are or what your profession is, for everyone life is just a long, slow road to death! The first stanza begins with the line "for nations as vague as weed" which as an unpleasant start to the poem and a hint of what is to come. Weeds are constantly springing up and are hard to get rid of but also sometimes aren't even noticed. This could suggest that Larkin views these nations as being insignificant and quite annoying. The second line "For Nomads among stones" is open for interpretation, but I believe that its meaning is that because Nomads have cattle, which would need to graze, if they only had stones to graze on, they would die. Therefore, for Nomads and their cattle alike, life is slow dying. A contrast can be drawn between Nomads and stones because stones will never move of their own accord but Nomads are constantly moving around. Stones will also usually remain forever but for Nomads life is short and meaningless. ...read more.

Conclusion

"Moustached in flowered frocks they shake" is an insult to the women and how ridiculous they look to Larkin. "A sense of life lived according to love" means that love is an illusion and never happens as perfectly as it is believed to and that the ache that all the women want to cure is really the need to love and be loved in return. "To some it means the difference they could make by loving others", this shows the extent of the illusion the women are under about what love can do. It interests me that the rhyme scheme is ended completely after "As all they might have done had they been loved" which echoes that when love does not exist, everything goes wrong. Through this line Larkin may also be trying to make the point that the women have only themselves to blame for having to turn to a healer because they have not lived their lives to the full because they were not loved. "An immense slackening ache" is a negative image which represents their ache is slackening and moving throughout their body and engulfing them. "Thawing the rigid landscape weeps" is linked to "tears" and "eyes squeezing grief" in stanza two by the idea that their 'healing' has created a great emotional outpouring within them. The poem is written in the present tense and therefore gives the sense of immediacy. Larkin is detached from the event and acts as a third person observer of the faith healing. In his general conclusion in the third stanza he uses authoritative language such as "in everyone there sleeps a sense of life lived according to love" to show that he believes that his view is completely correct. In conclusion I believe that Larkin's poetry is so effective because he expresses all his thoughts, emotions and prejudices through his use of language and verse form. The three poems that I have studied in this essay are all very different in the message that Larkin is conveying but have certain similarities, such as his pessimistic outlook on life! ...read more.

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