"Days" by Philip Larkin is a ten line poem that is deceptive in its simplicity. This article considers Larkin's poetic method in this remarkable short poem.
Philip Larkin (1922-1985) wrote the poem "Days" in 1953. The poem was published in Larkin's highly successful collection of poems entitled, The Whitsun Weddings, in 1964. "Days" is a curious poem. At first reading, it appears to be a simple, almost child-like dialogue. However, on second glance, the poem raises several disturbing questions as Larkin returns to his constant theme of mortality and the pointless brevity of life. The Structure of "Days"
The poem "Days" consists of two short stanzas. The first stanza is six lines long and asks two separate questions. "What are days for?" and "Where can we live but days?" In between the two questions is a four line answer to the first question. There is however no indication as to who is asking, or answering, these questions. Stanza two is shorter, consisting of only four lines and provides an answer to question two. This answer however is far more enigmatic (and disturbing) than the first.
Use of Voice in "Days"
Although Larkin does not provide any clues as to the identity of the voice or voices the reader hears in "Days", there is a clear distinction between the voice that asks the questions and the voice that answers. The voice that asks the questions could be the voice of a child. The questions, superficially at least, are simple and naive, foolish even. The second voice is different, and appears to change during the course of the poem. The answer to the first question: "Days are where we live", implies a matter of fact, placatory tone as the simple question is answered by an equally simple (though worrying) answer. At first, the voice appears to be kindly, positive even, telling the questioner that days are "to be happy in." In the final lines of the poem, this second voice adopts a worldly, macabre tone, almost mocking and...