An Arundel Tomb Summary

Philip Larkin
An Arundel Tomb

“Side by side, their faces blurred”   - When Larkin sees the tomb first, he is unimpressed. It is blurred and unclear and nothing about its “plainness” attracts his notice particularly. It seems a typical mediaeval monument, stiff and dull. When he notices the little dogs at their feet, he thinks them slightly
silly; he is definitely not moved or in any way drawn to the couple on the tomb.
  * Detached tone.

“His hand withdrawn, holding her hand” - When the poet suddenly notices the earl's hand withdrawn from his gauntlet and holding his wife's hand, he is struck by the gesture and is extremely moved “a sharp tender shock” <- striking image.   Now his attention begins to focus on the couple. His interest has been piqued and he is not as detached as he was in the first stanza. Image of affection.
-use of slow rhythm and emphatic “h” alliteration.

“They would not think to lie so long.” – Larkin reflects on the relationship between them. They never imagined their monument would survive centuries. The couple’s love is preserved by this loving gesture.   ‘So long’ – use of assonance.

“Snow fell, undated light/ Each summer thronged the glass.” – Larkin uses striking sensory images as he focuses on the theme of the passing of time. Use of short sentences.   Poetic image of “birdcalls”.  

“Washing at their identity.”   -   Larkin asserts the effigies are ‘helpless’ in this ‘unarmorial age’.
“Only an attitude remains.” – The poet’s cynical tone reflects his distaste for the ignorance around him. Today’s generation has a shallow appreciation of love.

“What will survive of us is love.” – The poet implies that love can’t survive the passage of time and the finality of death.

TONE- Like all of Larkin's poems on the course, the tone is detached at the start. He describes the tombs but without any particular feeling apart from a fleeting reference to the absurdity of the little dogs. Then when he notices their clasped...