Philip Larkin & Pam Ayres Essay on Love and Marriage

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"Philip Larkin has thought to have shown a perceptive awareness in his
poems and Pam Ayres is said to be witty and perceptive." To what extent do
you think this is accurate of their understanding of love and marriage?
Philip Larkin and Pam Ayres are two great poets who have different views and
attitudes towards the idea of love and marriage. Philip Larkin portrays a cynical and
pessimistic view of love and marriage. He gives us the readers the impression that
relationships do not last long and that only two people stay together because it is
what the society expects of them. Pam Ayres is quite the opposite and has a more
carefree and humorous, witty perception of love and marriage. This is because she
has experienced the stages of being or not being in love and is currently happily
married, so therefore she has a more optimistic and accurate view of love and
In one of Philip Larkin's poem, "An Arundel Tomb", Larkin illustrates the
relationship between the two forms found in the tomb. The poem shows the
deception of love and the falseness of how their relationship is preserved in stone by
the tomb. The poem begins by describing the sculpture in which the poem revolves
around, the earl and countess is a couple but their features are indistinct, Larkin uses
the adjectives "blurred" and "vaguely" to describe them, emphasises the theme of
loss and identity, and suggests Larkin's belief shown at the end of the poem is not
initially to the forefront of the person's mind. Everything is quite plain and lacks
decoration in the manner of the "pre-baroque"; the feeling we get from this
sculpture is that emotions were very stiff and reserved in these times, and could not
be expressed, which came as a shock when these couple are holding hands. Larkin
describes the shock as "sharp tender", which suggests that even though it is
unexpected and abrupt, it is also a quite pleasing and loving gesture with "his hand
withdrawn, holding her hand".
Further on in the poem, specifically in the third verse, the deceitfulness of the
earl and countess' marriage becomes apparent: "they would not think to lie so long",
suggests to the readers that they are being forced to be together in that position
with no choice of their own because of the fear of being shunned. "Such faithfulness
in effigy" and "stone fidelity", illustrates that if they were given the chance to
breakaway, they would have, but even if they were together and loved each other,
their love would subside eventually, even after death as well. It also suggests that
the only reason that these couple are in the tombstone and are faithful is because
they are dead. `Stone...suspended...bone' indicate that there is nowhere this
married couple can possibly go apart from to `lie in stone'. From Philip Larkin's
attitude towards love and marriage, one might assume that the fact their hands are
clasped in one another's grip and symbolises their underlying and everlasting love for
each other, it could all be a façade. They could have very well despised each other in
In addition, Larkin uses humour as well as sarcasm and irony to demonstrate
that it is in fact a symbol of nothing and merely "a sculptor's sweet commissioned

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The word "commissioned" suggests that the artist was paid to show a
different version of what a couple is meant to be like in society, which is romantic
and being together forever, rather than what is beneath the surface. What one can
notice from Larkin's perception towards love and marriage is that gradually, they have
lost their identity, so "only an attitude remains". It seems "time has transfigured
them into untruth", as they have also lost their individuality.…read more

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Larkin is thought to be a very pessimistic
poet but sometimes readers may mistake his realism to be cynicism, because of the
way he describes marriage, which is shown here. Every aspect of the woman no
longer means anything or represents her- "Its five light sounds no longer mean your cannot be semantically the same as that young beauty" as it's now "a
phrase applicable to no one".…read more

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The final poem of Philip Larkin is "Talking In Bed", which talks about a husband
and wife living together, yet being completely alone; and not being able to find the
words that were once there, or knowing that the words that were once there never
had true meaning. From this poem, one can understand from Larkin's attitude
towards love and marriage, that a marriage or relationship is something that would
not last very long because there is no love existing there from the very beginning.…read more

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Silver Wedding Speech" is a humorous poem based on the theme of
marriage. It focuses on a woman who leaves a twenty-five year old marriage to chase
her freedom rather than willingly commit and sacrifice her life for the sake of the
marriage. The first verse of the poem focuses on the celebration of her marriage.…read more

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I feel that both poets are perceptive and have an accurate about the
understanding of love and marriage. Larkin's poems of "An Arundel Tomb", and
"Talking in Bed" is more realistic and accurate because without love and affection
between the two partners, most relationships are more likely to breakdown
nowadays. However, I also think "Yes, I'll Marry You, My Dear", by Pam Ayres is also
accurate because traditionally women do these domestic roles, but currently in
society today, men also help with the household chores.…read more


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