3. Philip Larkin
Philip Larkin was born in 1922 August 9 in the place Coventry .
Philip Larkin is a major British poet and typical representative of a new movement
in English poetry .
His early poems shows the influence of W.B.Yeats .
Larkin and other poets of the new movement repeat the intellectual poetry of Ezra
Pound and W.H.Auden .
Larkin’s poetry is distinguished for its final sense of form , clarity of expression ,
intelligent craftsman ship and thoughtful realism .
His Notable works include “The Whitsun Weddings (1964), High Windows
5. About the poem
Larkin describes a stopping-train journey southwards from Paragon Station,
Kingston upon Hull, where Larkin was a librarian at the university, on a hot
Whitsun Saturday afternoon.
It has always been supposed the poem was based on an actual train journey Larkin
made in 1955 on Whitsun Saturday, a day which was popular for weddings at that
time though since there was a rail strike on that weekend Larkin scholar John
Osborne now thinks the journey an unlikely one to have taken place.
Larkin's letters mention two journeys, one to Grantham (not at Whit, some
weddings), and one to London (not at Whit, no weddings), that may have been
conflated in the poem.
6. The technical brilliance of Larkin
‘The Whitsun Weddings’ is technically perfect .
The poem takes us through the English country side to the urban landscapes .
The very movement is that of a leisurely journey , the lines frequently pausing as
if at so many stations .
Just as a train halts and proceeds the verse also shows enjoyment , the
continuation of sense without a pause beyond the end of the line .
The rhyme scheme is ab ab cde cde .
The rhyming scheme helps to link beginnings to end and end to beginnings,
suggesting the jaults and movement of a slow train .
After the first two stanzas the poem proceeds through interconnected stanzas,
just like the compartments of a train .
The descriptions are highly realistic , there is a logical development of ideas and a
regular stanza structure .
7. THEME AND LANGUAGE OF THE POEM
Thematically also the poem is important . The three most important aspects of human
life are birth , population and death according to T.S. Eliot . The poet invests the
railway journey with importance by peopling it with marriage parties . A marriage can
be successful or a total failure. Whatever the outcome the participants are changed
forever. While the couples are totally absorbed in the landscape , Larkin sits looking at
them thinking about the future of their married life . Then the train stops and a sense
of decline and doom comes to the poet . There is the inevitable sense of falling as
arrows fall . The rain means dampness and cold . The images of arrows and rain also
suggest the vigor of the couples . Rain is the symbol of fertility also . That life is a
progression , toward decay and destruction is recurring theme in Larkin’s poem . Here
, it is mixed with happiness and the sense of doom , the sense of alienation is also
brought out well in the poem . The poems greatness lies in the way in which seeing
and understanding the actions of the different couples harmonizes their various
experiences into a unified impression .
The description in the poem is graphic as is always the case with the imagery in
Larkin’s poems . The poet saw the backs of the houses on the way , the rivers broad and
level , wide farms , the cattle casting shadows on the ground canals with ‘industrial froth ‘
and ‘acres of dismantled cars’ . The poem also contains a graphic description of the people
on the railway platforms and the people getting into the train . The girls are described as
‘pomaded’, the fathers with ‘seamy foreheads’ , the mothers ‘loud and fat’ and an uncle
‘shouting's smut’. The references to the newly married couples are also interesting . The
poem is full of chronical and satirical phrases. Marriage described not only as a joyful
occasion but also as a ‘happy funeral’ and a ‘religious wounding’.
When the train finally stops , there is a sense of decline and doom to the poet . Like
the train which stops at the terminus , with passengers lacking bonds of love, going their
separate ways , there is the note of inevitable dissolution . The poem ends on a note of
happiness and the sense of doom on the part of the poet. The speeding arrow symbolizes
the train. It falls somewhere, there is rain germination , energy of life. When the train
comes to a halt , life also grinds to a halt . There is the inevitable sense of falling and
dissolution both in the trains journey and in life . Thus the sense of alienation in the
modern world . It is also brought out well in the poem .
9. The poets who influenced Philip Larkin
Thomas hardy William BUTLER YEATS