Phillip Larkin poetry table - themes, analysis & comparison to Abse

A table with most of the poems in 'The Whitsun Weddings' by Phillip Larkin with key analysis and themes, and what to compare to with other Larkin poems or Abse's poems from 'Welsh Retrospective'

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Larkin Poem Main Themes/Ideas Useful Quotes Links to other Larkin/Abse
Here Loneliness N Vs. I ­ Negative words to describe Home is so Sad
town "cheap" (could be viewed in factual The Whitsun Weddings ­
Nature Vs. sense) whereas nature "gold", Nature Vs. Industrial
Industrialism Phonetic describing nature ­ taking more A Scene from Married Life
­ aggressive lang
time/pace slower
Imitations ­ contrast
ABBACDDC rhyme scheme ­ also many
finding existence/peace
half rhymes (stands/ascends) and hardly with family rather than
rhyming ones (trolleys/driers) giving alone
informal tone
Train journey to isolated Hull
Listing of "desires" ­ lower class ­ no
snobbery, simple observation
"where removed lives/Loneliness
clarifies" ­ break between stanzas
emphasises silence and isolation
Semantic field of hidden/remoteness
The Alienation Strict half rhyming scheme doesn't fit Study of Reading Habits ­
Importance in highlighted by excess punctuation uses book for
of Identity which breaks up the likes representing identity/Importance
Elsewhere no connection elsewhere uses place to
Existence define
"salt rebuff of speech" ­ Irish accent
Here ­ sense descriptions,
relief to be somewhere else/different
finding isolation to
people understand existence
Sense descriptions
Need to be "elsewhere" to figure out
Home is so Lost family/Loneliness House personified by family - "having no Here ­ Home is so sad is
Sad heart" weakening, not being able to more accessible/relatable
Emptiness reflected be how it used to be missed Mr. Bleaney
in place opportunity? ­ adds to sensitivity The Whitsun Weddings ­
the promise of
Absence of adjectives so can be
home/marriage ­ doesn't
universal ­ any ones home reader can
quite deliver
relate more easily Reference Back ­ not living
"That vase." ­ nostalgia as though up to expectations of
overwhelmed with memories linked to memories
the vase, not just any vase ­ "that" Return to Cardiff ­
Isn't able to live up to expectations of emptiness reflected in
past memories place/returning to place
Last Visit to 198
Cathedral Road ­
emptiness + people bring

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Mr Bleaney Emptiness reflected Curtains "fall to within five inches of the Home is so Sad
in place sill" + listing of "no hook/Behind the Last Visit to 198
door, no room for books or bags" Cathedral Road ­
Can't connect Last 2 stanzas: reflection of his solitary emptiness reflected in
objects, although
life, "one hired box" ­ connotations of
Existence personified in Abse's
coffin/doesn't want to admit only him
with solitary life/using possessions to
signal value of existence ­ "measures",
"grinned,/And shivered" ­ contrast…read more

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Inter-stanza rhyming - off beat structure
like Jazz
Faith Falsity ­ of "warm spring rain of loving care" ­ Sunny Prestatyn ­ badly
Healing expectations metaphor temporary/stereotypically represented women
light + refreshing/start for growth/Noah Arundel Tomb/Sunny
Desperation for love ­ flood cleansing Prestatyn­ Falsity and
reality underneath
"A sense of life lived according to love"
Perceptions of Arundel Tomb ­ that kind
­ find meaning of life through love
women - badly of love is what meaning of
represented "That nothing cures.…read more

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Reference Back ­ past
Music ­connect to found love relationships explored
past "Sprawling hyphenated word" through music (emphasise
wanted it to be connected but reality loss through repetition +
Reflection reflections on time
far apart (life now and past)
Had a full life ­ symbolism of
At the Concert ­ music to
nature/natural things ("sunny place" reflect, contrast length of
"vase of water") but her life became perspective
damaged (semantic field "bleached" Imitations ­ connect to
"marked" ­ neglected herself/husband) people, representations of
youth…read more

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Changing other than self Weddings/Return to
culture/society ­ Enjambment ­ creates thought Cardiff ­ journeys
having children wandering/conversational/spoken feel Afternoons/Self's the
man ­ family, society's
"Locked." full stopped, one word
Journey views to having one
impact ­ locked in our lives
Circle structure ­ Funeral vs.…read more

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­ numbers
indicating what it cost him
"sparked/The whole shooting match off"
danger to him/all the competitors/
cupid's arrow
A Study of Character 3 genre of books ­ 3 stanzas Whitsun weddings ­
Reading Used characters in books to take upon contrast how characterises
Habits Existence himself with appearance +
Stanza 1: Action adventure, school stereotypes
Stanza 2: horror gothic, violent semantic
field, "ripping" ­ ambiguity ­
Stanza 3: realism/romance, doesn't like
it as reminds him of real life/those who
let him down,…read more

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Semantic field of distortion ­ not being
told full story, way of life disappearing,
class system erroding…read more


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