Philip Larkin


  • Nostalgia
  • Time/Passage of Time
  • Past/History
  • Innocence/Loss of innocence
  • Death (implied)

Starts off small and specific and then pans out into the bigger picture, showing how the war will affect everyone in the country.

Bleak and wistful in tone. Nostalgic with a sense of impending doom.


moustached, archaic faces

  • Moustached - a reference to Lord Kitchener from the "Your Country Needs You" posters that were designed to recruit soldiers for the First World War.
  • Archaic - no longer in use, antique. Could be telling us that these men are now dead or could symbolise how Larkin is going back in time for this poem.

grinning as if it were all an August Bank Holiday lark;

  • Grinning - excited/naive. Ironic as the men did not realise what they were getting themselves into by signing up to fight.
  • August Bank Holiday - something different, getting out of work, free time or fun. 
  • Lark - messing about and having fun, could also be a reference to poet, Larkin.

and the shut shops, the bleached established names on the sunblinds,

  • The shut shops - ambiguous. War was announced on Sunday/Bank Holiday so the shops would have been closed. It could also mean that all the men have gone to war so there is nobody to man the shops. Could foreshadow rationing.
  • Bleached -  the colours have drained or faded; happiness and calm "sunshine" has been around too long and now they must pay the price. Foreshadows the obliteration of the economy.

dark-clothed children

  • dark-clothed - could represent/foreshadow mourning. Death is imminent in the colour of the clothing. 
  • children - juxtaposition between the innocence of the children…


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