Both Larkin and Abse write about death in a way which suggests to the reader that it's an overriding concern in their life. Although this is more explicitly expressed through Larkin's poems, the fact it is a dominant theme in Abse's 'Welsh Retrospective' is evidence in itself that such fear existed in his mind. Both poets go on to explore the effect of death draining life of its worth.
Larkin seems to relate to death more universally, as perhaps the only common feature he shared with the people around him. Through the collection, Larkin suggests that life offers nothing to us, other than death. The narrative of the poem 'Mr Bleaney' is of the persona replacing Mr Bleaney's existence by moving into his old room: "I lie/ Where Mr Bleaney lay". This gives the reader a sense of one person moving out leading to replacement and being forgotten; this perhaps is parallel to the idea of death. The language in "Mr Bleaney" conveys death for both Mr Bleaney and the voice of the poem, as the speaker related himself to the former tenant. "One hired box" connotes coffins and death but is actually a description of the small room; this is similar to "They moved him" which suggests the transportation of a dead body, but in fact refers to a change in jobs. It's important that Larkin set this morbid tone to suggest that death is always in the background of the persona's mind and to accentuate the realisation which the persona faces after moving into Mr Bleaney's old room. He "stood and watched the frigid wind" like he supposes Mr Bleaney once did and wondered if he "warranted no better." Despite reading as if the persona is pondering over Mr Bleaney's life, as a reader it seems more plausible that the voice of the poem is actually viewing his life through the former tenants. He is able to relate to him through death and worthless existence, as it's a shared feature of humanity. He's questioning whether he- like Mr Bleaney- truly deserves a tiny "box" room with unfulfilling and...
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