Poetry of Phillip Larkin

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The poetry of Philip Larkin possesses a unique characteristic that has drawn the attention of many readers from 1945, when his first book was published, up until the modern day. His writing contains unique characteristics because he was not raised with the normal life that many writers today have and often write about. One of Larkin's most prominent characteristic used was the idea of humor. The objective of this paper is to display factual evidence that Larkin was using humor as a way to further the meaning of his poetry being the reason that many readers are drawn to his writings. Larkin's poetry implies a humorous but serious tone because he talks about the idea of realism, changes his style and tone between poems, and each of his publications reflect how he felt during the time it was written.

Being that this was not always Larkin's style of writing, a short history of Larkin is necessary to understand why he chose to write this way. Larkin was born in England in 1922, and lived there until he moved to Hull in 1955. From birth to his move, his life had seemed like it was going in the right direction. He was homeschooled until the age of eight by his mother, then progressed through junior school and senior school, and eventually earned exception into the St. John's College, Oxford where he would study English. Just when it appeared things couldn’t get any better for Larkin, he graduated from Oxford in 1943 with a first-class honors degree (Rossen 4). Despite all of the good things mentioned above, Larkin's normal life turned around when his father passed in 1948. His mother did not take the death of her husband very well and Larkin was forced to take care of her until the mourning had passed. He had written his first poetry book and two novels in this time period, beginning his career in writing. Not too much time had passed after publishing these books before Larkin had packed his things and moved to Hull where he became a librarian (Rossen 4).

This move was made so that Larkin could focus more on his own writings. Shortly after the move, Larkin had published his second collection of poetry in which he received the Queen's gold medal for poetry. While working as a librarian, Larkin met a woman by the name of Ruth Bowman. They became very close to each other and later even got engaged. However the relationship turned when Larkin was appointed a sub-librarian at Queens's University Belfast. Eventually Larkin had become University Librarian at the University of Hull where he remained until his death in 1985 (Rossen 10). During this time period, Larkin had attempted to write a third novel which was never able to be considered anything better than a good start. He wanted nothing more than to be a novelist and was upset from the success he had in his poetry. This caused a change in Larkin' style of writing. Larkin's poetry is interesting because readers can see a change in his attitude throughout the course of his publications while enjoying the humor provided.

Many of the poems that are read today have a common theme or style to them which does not make any specific author stand out. Although they may differ in word choice, the common layout of a typical lyric poem today would be taking any object they could think of and relating it to something different in a metaphorical state. Larkin had this in common with other poets in his early writings which were influenced by famous poets such as T. S. Eliot and W. B Yeats (Rossen 2). Most of the writers that Larkin had aspired to be were authors that his father had told him to read while he was being homeschooled. After depressing events in Larkin's life, his poetry moved from a metaphorical state to a state of realism. Many of the poems written in a state of realism are centered around the idea of a loss of something. Even if that something were not always considered to be a bad or undesirable thing. These poems are written in a humorous way that...
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