Next please by philip larkin summary
The Less Deceived by Philip Larkin
How could I have neglected this great poet for so long? After all, I have an abiding love for 20th century verse, and I remember encountering—and admiring—that masterpiece of his, “Church Going,” more than two decades ago.
I suspect much of my neglect may be due to my knee-jerk preferences in mid-century verse: I favor the American over the British, the surrealist over the rhetorical, the bi-polar over the cynical. But I suspect there are other reasons that run deeper. For years, you see, I strove to be playful, guileless, and ardent. This was hard work at times, and required a steady diet of denial.
During those years, in my reading, I sought out outrageous images and shunned clear-eyed assessments; I sauntered, oblivious, through the topiary gardens of the heart and shunned the desert blooms of the soul. Now that I am in my sixties, however, my inner landscape seems simpler and starker, years of drought having greatly reduced the local population of illusions. And—behold!--the poetry of Philip Larkin looks better all the time.
This is a very short collection (not Larkins first, but the first one he liked), and I would not wish any of these twenty-nine sharply crafted lyrics away. The title is a reference to Hamlet (Ophelia, when Hamlet says he never loved her, replies “I was the more deceived”) and most of the poems here deal in some way with deception. All of us fall prey to it, Larkin believes, but the sufferer is invariably “less deceived” than her oppressor who, filled with desire—specifically lust in the poem “Deception”--ends up deluded and filled with sadness: “stumbling up the breathless stair/ to burst into fulfillments desolate attic.” Indeed Larkin can be eloquent--and daring--on the subject of lust, as he is in “Dry Point”:
Endlessly, time-honored irritant,
A bubble is restively forming at your tip.
Burst it as fast as we can--
It will grow again, until we begin dying.
Larkin can at times be mordantly humorous. In “If My Darling” he speculates about what his girl might think if she could view the vile contents of his mind (“monkey-brown, fish-grey, a string of infected circles/ Loitering like bullies, about to coagulate”), in “Toad” he compares his day-job to an intrusive amphibian (“why should I let the toad work squat on my life?), and in “I Remember, I Remember,” he excuses Coventry, the town he lived in for the painfully uneventful first eighteen years of his life, from any specific responsibility (“Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.”)
Larkin can be romantic too, yet it is always a desperate romanticism, infected with loss. Perhaps the most moving poems in this collection are the three (“Lines on a Young Ladys Photograph Album,” “Maiden Name,” and “Latest Face”) which he wrote for Winifred Arnott, a friend from his Belfast days who married someone else. I particularly love the conclusion to “Photograph Album”:
...So I am left
To mourn (without a chance of consequence)
You, balanced on a bike against a fence;
To wonder if youd spot the theft
Of this one of you bathing; to condense,
In short, a past that no one now can share,
No matter whose your future; calm and dry,
It holds you like a heaven, and you lie
Unvariably lovely there,
Smaller and clearer as the years go by.
Still, the collections longest poem,“Church Going”—slightly more than two pages—is the obvious masterpiece. A bicyclist out for a country ride visits a ruined church, and speculates about what such spaces might be used for once they no longer serve their present purpose. The poem reads like a meditative knell for Christianity, and yet the cyclist says he believes these old stone structures will never be completely abandoned:
A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognized, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.
Philip Larkin: Next, Please Analysis Revision Notes
As it turned out, she beamed, it was wonderful and all she had hoped for. Something is always approaching; every day Till then we say,. Watching from a bluff the tiny, clear Sparkling armada of promises draw near. How slow they are! And how much time they waste, Refusing to make haste!
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Always too eager for the future, we Pick up bad habits of expectancy. Something is always approaching; every day Till then we say,. Watching from a bluff the tiny, clear Sparkling armada of promises draw near. How slow they are! And how much time they waste, Refusing to make haste!
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