Philip Larkin Essay

What are the distinctive qualities of Philip Larkin’s poetry? Refer to at least 2 poems in your answer.

Philip Larkin’s poetry features many distinctive qualities. These qualities include a recurring theme of death and fatalism, the use of imagery to create a mental image and a pessimistic, bleak view of the world and what is addressed in the poetry. Also Larkin’s poems have a monotonous and repetitive feel to them, there is a conversational tone to his poems and his poetry also raises the issue of what people expect of life and what is actually delivered. Basically all of his poems have an underlying theme of life and what it is about.

Death is a typical characteristic for you to see throughout Larkin’s poems and is an important quality. It is suggested frequently in Larkin’s poems such as Ambulances and Mr Bleaney. Through the death and fatality in his poems Larkin creates a lonely feel and looks upon a human’s life grimly and as death as the end of a human’s existence. In Ambulances he talks about death as a certainty, an end, something to be feared but ultimately part of daily life. This is shown also in Mr Bleaney as he insinuates Mr Bleaney is gone but does not tell us why or how. Death is also hinted by the name ‘Bodies’. Death is an underlying quality of Larkin’s poetry which is referred to throughout his poems.

Imagery plays an important role and is a quality found in all of Philip Larkin’s poems. Larkin uses imagery to reinforce the setting and subject of the poem. He paint’s a real picture in the readers mind to leave a lasting impression. Larkin goes beyond the norm to explain the little things in detail to emphasise his overall view of life. For example, ‘Flowered curtains, thin and frayed, Fall to within five inches of the sill’. His imagery creates a clear, definite image of the scene and Larkin’s view of existence and the world. The use of imagery adds to the sense of the ambulance moving along in the poem Ambulances. It creates a rhythmic...