Afternoons - Philip Larkin

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  • Afternoons
    • Context
      • Larkin is well-known for poetry that makes detailed observations about simple, everyday life
      • much of his poetry seems nice at first, but has a much more morbid and miserable undertone
      • Larkin was a solitary man who spent much of his life indoors and was generally quite melancholy
      • never married and had no children
      • never went abroad
      • known for writing about things that aren't usually considered important enough for poetry
    • Love
      • "Setting free their children"
        • the mothers care for their children and love them because it's the only thing they have to do, whilst the husbands work and they enjoy the break they get from their children when they are at the park
      • "Behind them, at intervals,/ Stand husbands in skilled trades"
        • the husbands watch over, love and take care of their wives, but ultimately serve a higher purpose as they are "in skilled trades",whilst the mothers are just mothers
      • structure and form
        • the regular and repetitive structure of this poem could reflect the unchanging pattern of love, it is unchanging and ultimately quite unexciting for the mothers
      • "Young mothers assemble"
        • the mothers assemble in a robotic, military-type fashion to protect their children out of both love and responsibility
    • Passing of Time
      • title
        • the title implies that every afternoon is exactly the same and the scene in the park looks the same, no matter what day, month or year you choose to look at it
      • "Summer is fading"
        • the seasons are changing and yet this changes nothing in the mothers lives, the seasons change and leave them behind no matter what
      • "Their beauty has thickened"
        • over time, the youthful beauty once possessed by the mothers has faded into a different kind of beauty
      • structure and form
        • the regular, repetitive structure could show how time passes, but everything repeats itself
    • Change
      • "Summer is fading"
        • the seasons are changing and the fun and joy of summer is quickly slipping away, being replaced with darkness
      • structure and form
        • the structure of the poem is regular, with three stanzas with the same number of lines, showing the unchanging nature of what happens each day in the lives of the families
        • no rhyme - shows the lack of romance and beauty left in the mothers lives, just the dull drone of everyday life
      • "their courting-places/ That are still courting-places"
        • many parts of their lives have remained the same as they grew older and changed, showing how life is a cycle and things stay the same throughout generations
      • "The leaves fall in ones and twos"
        • even though the lives of the mothers remain repetitive and unchanging, the seasons move on without them and continue in the same way
    • Sense of Place
      • "From trees bordering/ The new recreation ground."
        • the parents and children are locked in and trapped in the park, as well as in the same, boring and unchanging cycle
      • "their courting-places/ That are still courting-places"
        • the places the mothers once enjoyed childhood which have been ruined by time are now home to a new group of young lovers, showing a constant cycle
      • structure and form
        • the regular structure of this poem could represent the unchanging nature of where the mothers are, years from now there will still be mothers with their children at the park and young lovers in the same courting-places
      • "Expect to be taken home"
        • the children have become accustomed to everyday life and have already begun to fall into the unchanging and regular pattern they will eventually become a part of


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