Ambulances - Philip Larkin

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Ambulances - Philip Larkin

By | March 2012
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A poem which describes an ordinary or everyday scene is ‘Ambulances’ by Philip Larkin. ‘Ambulances’ is about an ambulance going to take someone away and the neighbourhood is watching what is happening. It shows the curiosity that is in every human being and the inevitability of dying. This essay will discuss how the poet uses an ordinary/everyday scene and make it important and to explore a wider universal theme. The essay will also show how Larkin’s use of poetic techniques makes and ordinary or everyday scene turn into something bigger.

At the beginning of stanza 1 Larkin decides to use techniques to create curiosity in the reader about the everyday scene which is explained in more detail later on in the poem: “Closed like confessionals, they thread”

Here Larkin uses a simile to show how the A mbulance is perceived from the inside out. A ‘confessional’ is a small room in a church where someone would go to confess their sins and be closer to g od. This reference to the ambulance being like a confessional gives the idea that the inside the ambulance is a very confined space and if someone is going to hospital, it would be because something had happened to them and describing the ambulance like a confessional links it to god and living rather than dying . Using the word ‘thread’, Larkin creates a sense of carefulness from the ambulance, the way it moves through the city traffic gives the idea that it’s weaving through the city.

In stanza 1 Larkin shows the curiosity behind the public seeing an ambulance and the scale of stares it gets: “giving back none of the glances they absorb”
This shows that the people of the neighbourhood are watching where the ambulance is going and are curious to know what the ambulance was needed for. This also shows how something like an ambulance or fire engine which could signify tragedy, brings out the curiosity in everyone because you want to know what happened. Here, Larkin brings in a background theme of curiosity...
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