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Philip Larkin, though a very talented and revered poet, wrote most of his poetry on his discontent with life. He seems to always be lusting after love, sex, and happiness. Larkin consistently writes about his own unhappiness and lack of social life and this creates a style of poem all his own. Larkin really opens up in his poetry and pours out his feelings on the reader. If Larkin feels like having sex he lets the reader know; if Larkin had a bad day he lets the reader know; if Larkin saw a couple in love and he is jealous he lets the reader know. Hes not afraid to use an uncouth word to get his point across and this style gets peoples attention and it lets them know he means business.
Philip Larkins life didnt even end up getting any better. His life kept heading him downhill and his work began to suffer. This suffering is included in many of his poems. All of these things show that Larkin is one of the most emotional poets ever, and this is what gives him much of his uniqueness. Sex is one of Larkins main themes. He talks about people doing it, his lack of it, and his desperate desire for some of it. Larkin obviously isnt getting any sexual fulfillment from anyone and he is unafraid to show that.
Bruce Meyer, a poetry critic, said of Larkins book High Windows, Larkins poetry shows his pathetic and unattainable desires for love, passion, and human contact. (Meyer, 113-16) Another thing that Larkin's poetry does is make people relate to his problems and feelings and also desire the things he wants. Larkin invokes his own jealousy of people who are having sex upon his readers. Larkin targets people who arent getting sexual fulfillment and makes them feel the same way he does: unhappy with their current predicament (not having sex) and possessing a desire to change this situation. Again Bruce Meyer, [High Windows] is about the sexual freedom that was sweeping England in the 60s. These poems show a glimpse of the heaven that Larkin wants to get to and show people what theyre missing.
Larkin provides a window in to what life could be. From his poem High Windows, When I see a couple of kids And guess hes fucking her Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives- Bonds and gestures pushed to one side. (Larkin, High Windows, 32) Larkin observes kids and talks about how he would love to be in their place. This makes his reader relate and want to be in the same situation as the observed kids. This is something Larkin strives for in all his poems. Larkin is unhappy with the fact that his is not having sex and wants something more out of life.
His poetry displays the fact that he is defiantly not getting this something. Larkin makes sure people are aware of this lack of sexual fulfillment and he tends to pass his pain on to the reader. Another thing Larkin writes about is love. Similar to his theme of sex, the love theme also indicates a lack of/desire for love. In the poem Coming Larkin writes, [I] feel like a child / nd can understand nothing. (Larkin, Coming 14, 17) Larkin does not really understand why he is not loved and he writes that he cannot feel like an adult without love.
In fact most of the book High Windows is about his lack of love and his desire for it. (Meyer, 113-116) Much like his theme of sex he puts the pain of this lack on the reader. This strange distribution of pain has become expected of Larkins poetry by many critics. (Gwynn, 116-118) I think Larkin does this to ease his pain in some way and to make people relate to his poetry on a very personal level. Bruce Meyer writes, Larkins poetry shows his pathetic and unattainable desires for love. (Meyer, 113-116) Bruce Meyer can see that Larkin is lamenting his unhappiness in his poems and is trying to find a way to help himself. This lamentation has become a very common theme in Larkins poetry and it defines his personal poetical style.
Larkin is a very unhappy man that didnt get to live like many people due to his lack of sexual appeal and due to his own insecurity. His poetry is an outcry to society asking for help. Larkin seemed to get more and more unhappy as his life progressed. He began to realize his life was getting nowhere. All he had done was become promoted through the hierarchy of the British library system. (Schmidt, 300-301) His poetry seemed to lose its steam and greatness. Poetry critic Michael Schmidt says though it was as emotional as it ever had been Larkins poetry was becoming repressive of the facts and seemed to show him living in a constant state of denial. (Schmidt, 300-01) More clearly, Larkin was not telling the whole truth in his poetry and was trying to downplay his unhappiness.
This restraint did nothing to help his current state of mind and he seemed to continue to sink deeper and deeper in to his depression. Roger Bowen writes that Larkin was becoming obsessed with his own mortality and seemed very occupied with the thought of death. (Bowen, 297-300) Larkin seemed to become almost suicidal and his poetry expressed signs of his approaching death. . (Bowen, 297-300) These things led to the downfall of his poetry, but nevertheless people still liked him. Larkin won many awards soon before his death including the Queens Gold Medal for Poetry, the Lioness Award for Poetry, and many of his poems were appointed to the National Manuscript Collection of the Contemporary Writers Committee. (Napierkowski, 106) Finally Larkin was asked to be the poet laureate for England and he declined the Queen.
He soon afterwards died of cancer, he was sixty-three. (Moore) Larkin was a great poet that was renown around the world for his work. It gained him much popularity, but this new found appreciation seemed to lead to his downfall. Larkins poetry will continue to be an awakening to any student as it was to me. His crazy language and strange topics gave me and many other people a new outlook on writing. (The Philip Larkin Society) This occurrence will never cease because of Larkins widespread popularity. The poetry will always live on throughout English literary history and will continue to impact for years to come..
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