Examine the ways in which Larkin’s poems explore the gap between romantic yearning and disillusioned pragmatism As a poet who wrote during the post war period during the 1950’s & 1960’s; Philip Larkin’ poetry reflected the philosophy of many individuals in Britain; as it was beginning to be re-built physically and metaphorically. It was an emergence of a new Britain; as this particular era was full of promise. Due to the change that occurred during this era. The aspirations and hopes of many individuals were high as well as romantic yearning and disillusioned pragmatism. Philip Larkin wrote to explore the gulf between our natural instinct to aspire and dream and the harsh reality that many fail to comprehend. Philip Larkin emphasises the fact as a result of such high aspirations; many set themselves up for disappointment and disillusionment.
The poem Wild Oats is a particularly relevant poem which explores the gap between romantic yearning and disillusioned pragmatism. Wild Oats seems to comment on the issue of commitment and questions the prevailing sexual attitudes. This is evident in the poem as the title is clearly a conventional metaphor which in contrast to the topic of the poem of Love, relationships and marriage is ironic as the tone of Wild Oats is a casual tone (due to the title) with a sense of flippancy; other signs that indicate a sense of flippancy in the poem is the use of colloquial language such as the fact the poem bears a conversational tone “Both times (so I thought) not to laugh.”
Edgar Allan Poe and Hilda Doolittle use diction, imagery and tone to offer two distinctly different views of Helen of Troy. Poe gushes over her beauty and Doolittle demonizes her for "past ills." In the Edgar Allan Poe poem the speaker is an admirer of Helen who is professing his love. His tone is one of wonder at her perfection and beauty. With Poe's diction you can imagine Helen's majestic ...
As well as the enjambment; this begins in the first stanza and ends towards the end of stanza 2: “Unknown to the clergy.” Arguably the conversation tone that is evident in the poem could be a result of Larkin deliberate theme. Where his poetry can be seen as “connecting on the everyday world they knew in language they understood.” Larkin’s diction is never coincidental; and therefore what on the surface may seem as casual holds deeper metaphorical meaning, due to Larkin’s subtlety it is easily dismissed. “About twenty years ago..” This therefore adds to our suspicion on the poem’s deceptive motive. As if the encounter with “Bosomy” was in any way significant it was not be acknowledged so causally.
The choice of diction could be due to the fact Larkin may be in denial because he made an attempt and experienced rejection and therefore the sense of falsity which is attached to the casual tone of the poem(especially in the beginning of the poem).
Again Larkin’s diction is chosen for a purpose. The whole narrative is a form of creative metaphor. Settling for the ordinary instead of striving for more “A bosomy English rose and her friends specs I could talk to” Faces in those days sparked the whole shooting match off and I doubt if ever one had like hers……“But it was the friend I took out” Settling for a more realistic “hum drum” a general interest and relevant observation for all of us. Through Andrew Motion’s analysis of Larkin’s ability to separate romantic yearning and reality and how “time is the true measure of what we are and are not” he concludes that “his poems have an unmistakably affirmative aspect.” Larkin was adamant and believed marriage could be an imprisonment.
“Unknown to the clergy. I believe I met beautiful twice….” There is a deeper introspection on Larkin’s shortcomings and fears, which delves deeper where it seems Larkin subtly confronts his own insecurities such as his phobias and insecurities. “Cynicism and disdain for life/ relationships, phobia of being tied down” Therefore by providing an element that all individuals can relate to such as rejection Larkin is able to put across his deductive argument. If Bosomy is out of reach, romantic yearning is essentially out of reach. Through such concrete evidence the detachment to introspection which is evident due to the enjambment. This suggests a deeper self involvement that is comprehended of love, relationships and marriage. A lot of the attitudes that existed since the 1930’emerge throughout the poem.
Andrew Marvell’s poem To His Coy Mistress gives the reader a chance to delve into the mind of the narrator as he tells of his love for his mistress. This seems to be a simple enough theme, and indeed poets have been sounding out their barbaric yawps for quite some time over this issue of love, but what is so intriguing and memorable about Marvell’s take on love is how romantic it is (romantic in ...
These attitudes also included sexist views towards women. This is evident in the first stanza when the reader is introduced to “Bosomy English rose” the sexualizing of the conventional metaphor portrays an adolescent attitude toward women. This suggests the general tone of flippancy. The tone is also ironic because this woman is clearly someone who is significant and clearly out of his reach. “Bosomy is a person who is unnamed and is given a unique label because she is out of reach and therefore above him Therefore is “Bosomy” is out of reach the romantic yearning is also too out of reach hence is emphasises the “then and now” concept that emerges through Larkin’s poetry as well as the concept reinforced by Larkin that Life’s expectations are cut short which leads to disappointment. On the other hand there is a deeper introspection Larkin’s shortcomings and fears which goes deeper and Larkin confronts his own insecurities and therefore there is no such thing as true love and is simply “deprivation and ignorance” Margaret Drabble’s analysis of Larkin’s depressing poetry leads to her conclusion that Larkin “closed his doors too early.
On the other hand romantic yearning and disillusioned pragmatism is hinted at with settling for “specs” There is an element of sad irony. Again Larkin’s diction is nothing coincidental “seven years” “ 400 letters.” It is evident that he regrets seven wasted years. The emphasis on numbers leads to Larkin’s conclusion that time disproves of the relationship and longer doesn’t mean better. Routine becomes habit and eventually harden into all we’ve got “400 letters” that indicates he did show signs of commitment but that greatly contributes to the sad irony and such commitment still ends up going nowhere. “Five rehearsals before it came to an end” Larkin adds emphasis on the fact that habit is hard to break and this is indeed not a positive remark. The fact that it took five rehearsals is simply getting round to the inevitable end because it is so hard to break habits. To a certain extent this could be a genuine inability to carry on his commitment to attempt to find happiness and fulfillment due to psychological reasons because of his childhood experiences.
The title of this poem is derived from the expression ‘To sow your wild oats’. It was culturally accepted by men at the time, that before marriage, men would be allowed to indulge in many sexual relationships with many women. The reasoning behind this is that if a man is not able to sow his wild oats, he will become anxious during his married years and begin to cheat on his wife. This ...
On the other hand it may be because of Larkin’s nature; and how he counts the days left before they’ve even begun and simply concluding that love is “simply deprivation and ignorance.” “In my wallet are still two snaps” There is something instilled in all of us and romantic yearning does indeed exist. But unfortunately the gulf between romantic yearning and disillusioned pragmatism is far too great. And how we have to choose to settle for less than what we initially anticipated. Unlike many critics such as Margaret Drabble are quick to judge Larkin as someone who is “afraid, wanted us to fear to” and is “obsessed with death.”
Arguably there is something of Larkin in his poetry regardless of how his poems are indeed not at all autobiographical. “Useful to get that learnt.” The evident sarcasm is merely used to mask Larkin’s deeper insecurities and is therefore a flippant response and immature response to the dismissal of the relationship. The sarcasm may surface a deeper message that Larkin has dismissed something fundamental he has learnt about himself but he can’t get past the sexualizing of women to acknowledge it; and how Larkin does desire commitment and marriage. Regardless of Larkin’s cynicism in which he left no misunderstanding for the reader and his emphasis on his phobia of marriage.
“Unknown to the clergy.”