He uses metaphors throughout the poem to achieve what seems to change the affect an ordinary poem has on one, making it more literal and realistic. This idea of realism through description and metaphors is also used in The Whitsun Weddings by Larkin. The title is the first example of such a metaphor. Nobody likes to work and everyone dislikes toads. He has deliberately chosen something disgusting and horrible to show how he and society feels about work. One of Larkins strengths was to reflect on how society reacts in many of his poems; such as Afternoons and The Whitsun Weddings.
All the words in this poem were chosen very cautiously, making sure that the double meaning comes across clearly. In the first stanza of the poem Larkin explains the relation he makes between a toad and work. He makes work sound as if it is something one has to do and the poem makes life almost sound pointless, as one has to work, it portrays a stark reality of life as a socially awkward type of person like Larkin would see it. Why should I let the toad work Squat on my life? The word squat makes work sound as if one is trapped and has no freedom, also it seems to add a sense of disgust and vulgarity to the idea.
The next line makes work sound very large and as if one cannot move around freely with it. Cant I use a pitchfork And drive the brute off? The stanzas of this poem are presented in a very structured way and the rhythm is repetitive and keeps on going, again reflecting the pattern and style of work; making it boring and routine. In the second stanza he produces a strong image of work poisoning his life, also he debates why it is not possible to pay his bills by using his intellect. As the poem moves on in its continuing manner, Larkin describes the type of people who do not work and almost wishes he were them.
In the next few stanzas he describes the people who do not work and what it would be like to live like tem. At one point he is even considering becoming homeless as an option of how to get out of work. He mentions all the thoughts which one relates to homelessness. With fires in a bucket, Eat windfalls and tinned sardines- As the poem moves on Larkin seems to realise that his thoughts on work will never be accepted and that it is not all that bad. He does this by including a famous and very dreamy quote from Shakespeares Midsummer Nights Dream. Thats the stuff that dreams are made on
After that quote his changes fully, and he realises that work is not the chore that it seems to be on the outside. For something sufficiently toad-like Squats in me too, The poem ends with a concluding stanza, where Larkin becomes aware of the need for balance between the two sides of life; work and spiritual happiness. Through studying this poem I have learnt that Larkin dislikes work yet at the same time he enjoys it. Probably because he knows of nothing else to compare it to which would make it bad. This makes one feel sympathetic towards Larkin as it seems as if he has no happiness in him.
Toads Revisited is another poem by Larkin. This poem is more for work whereas Toads is more the against side of the argument. The poem is fairly relaxed and brings out Larkins more laidback side. In this poem he has reconciled the idea of work and makes himself feel better by describing the people lower than him. The first stanza is an introduction to the poem; Larkin uses direct language to describe where he is and what he is doing. In the next three stanzas he is doing what he does best; describing and observing society as he sees it.
He uses an idyllic and chatty tone to make the setting clear and then moves on to the people around him, the people that are not at or do not work. Palsied old step-takers and Waxed-fleshed out-patients And characters in long coats Deep in the litter-baskets- The first line in stanza five is the one which breaks up the poem, giving it a turning point where Larkin stops observing and starts to reflect back on to his own feelings about these kind of people. In his eyes the dregs of society. All dodging toad work The last two stanzas are, again, a type of reconciliation Larkin has with himself.
He takes into account the need for work and that he quite enjoys it really. Also that without work one would have nothing to work towards, such as the end of a long day. He realises that he wants and likes life moving on and wants to grow old. He becomes conscious that the toads he once hated have now become a companion rather than an enemy with the words; Give me your arm, old toad; Help me down Cemetery Road. The final poem I have decided to study by Philip Larkin is Mother, Summer, I. This poem, on the contrary to the other two, is about Larkins family life rather than the public.
It reflects his mothers feelings and he uses powerful imagery to show the difference between him and his mother. The poem gives an insight into what his childhood was like, linking the four seasons to the relationship with his mother. The first stanza of the poem is based mainly on his mother, he describes her in a negative and unloving way. The formal language he uses to address his mother suggests that the relationship is not a particularly good one. His mother is portrayed in a very pessimistic way; its almost as if she is waiting for something bad to happen that she can complain about.
¦ and shakes It out suspiciously, These words show that. Larkin is able to carry on this affect of almost hatred towards his mother by using dark words throughout the poem, yet at the same time this poem is also very poetic compared to Toads and Toads Revisited. Lines like And rains begin, and brittle frost Sharpens the bird-abandoned air, agree on this. The second stanza of the poem is more focused on Larkin himself. It tells how Larkin finds it easier to work in miserable surroundings and that he feels that he does not deserve to be happy.
Emblems of perfect happiness I cant confront: Lines like this also show that Larkin feels that he is not able to relate to happiness, possibly linking to his unhappy childhood and his parents discontented marriage. A time less bold, less rich, less clear: An autumn more appropriate. These last lines of a poem which brings out Larkins melancholic personality show that he needs bad weather to match his misery. These three poems are all very different yet at the same time also very much the same; they all seem to bring out Larkins main qualities.
He uses his melancholic ways to ensure that his points are bought across in his own way using his talents. One of the most obvious being observing society in an isolationistic way. Mainly, Larkins problem with society was that he felt he did not fit in, that in a way gave him the perfect way of criticising it from a new and different perspective making his poems so popular. Overall, the way Larkin was bought up influenced his character in such a way that the outcome was incredibly miserable, yet that misery helps us understand and observe the world though his eyes making it deeper and more interesting.