Larkin vs Abse on Relationships

1910 words 8 pages
Larkin and abse discussing relationships

Philip Larkin and Dannie Abse have very different and contrating attitudes to relationships. On the whole, Larkin presents the concepts of love and marriage as very superficial and meaningless, whereas Abse appears to be less such nihilistic and more open and positive about such topics. The essay will discuss this contrast by examing Larkin’s “Whitsun Weddings”, “Wild Oats” and “Arundel Tomb”, and Dannie Abse’s “Imitations” and “Sons”. The poem entitled `The Whitsun Weddings` is an observational piece by Larkin when he was travelling from Hull to London by train. The poem has seven stanzas and is is typical of Larkin. The words are simple, the emotions are blunted and the
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Archaic language is used within this poem to emphasise the age of the tombs. In the first line of the first stanza it says ‘their faces blurred’ this also illustrates the age of the tombs and how long it has been since they had lived and felt this ‘love’, as it shows the stone has begun to corrode. This is perhaps also a metaphor for their feelings towards one another; they have also corroded like the stone. The truth of their love is ‘blurred’. This demonstrates another key theme in this poem, time and how it can ‘transfigure’ the truth. As time erodes their identity leaving only an ‘attitude’, time also preserves this ‘untruth’ in ‘effigy’. Perhaps Larkin is trying to portray also that we should not take all things at face value. Another obviously evident theme in this poem expressed even in the title, is the inevitability of death, and how passage of time leads to death. ‘Tomb’ connotes death and throughout the stanzas there is a semantic field of words relating to death, repeating ‘lie’ and also the use of ‘rigidly’. As well as this ‘Bone-riddled ground’ has connotations of death or some sort of a graveyard, this also adds emphasis to death and how it is inescapable. The hands are described with the adverb, ‘empty’, this connotes the opposite of love,

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