Through their poems, Larkin and Abse often show memories in a negative way. In "Dockery and Son", Larkin hints that though memories are often triggered by visiting a place from our past, in this instance his old university, this is not necessarily a good thing as while memories remain, the people and experiences that we remember are gone.The persona's realisation of this is suggested at the end of the first stanza, "I try the door of where I used to live:/ Locked." The locked door seems to be symbolic of the feelings that are now lost to the persona.
It is clear from the beginning of the poem that Larkin sees the act of remembering as a negative thing as the persona arrives "Death-suited", which has connotations of a funeral. However, the persona does seem to view his time at university as a happier time, using colloquial expressions to describe how he and Dockery had to explain "'our version' of 'these incidents last night'". A contrast is made here between the persona as he arrives, possibly from a funeral, and his younger mischievous self.
Another technique employed by Larkin in this poem is the use of a train journey to symbolise change, possibly between different stages of life. Happy memories seem to fade as the persona boards a train. Larkin uses an alliterative tricolon, "canal and clouds and colleges subside," as the persona's thoughts drift away from the university and contemplate the changes that have occurred since he left. Elliptical phrases allow Larkin to express thoughts quickly, as though he cannot contain his ideas, "How much... How little..."
As well as considering the experiences we once had but lost, Lark suggests that we miss out on things that we cannot get back. The sudden realisation of this is expressed in the image of the "furnace-glares of Sheffield", as the train moved into the city while the persona slept, as Larkin feels life moves on while we remain unaware.
"A strong/ Unhindered moon..." is used as a metaphor here, as Larkin seems to suggest that the independent life he has maintained since university is "natural" compared to the life that Dockery leads. However, Larkin mourns the…