We live in a time of change. Financially, politically and environmentally, nothing is guaranteed. At such times, we must question the meaning of life and our place in this world. What will be our legacy? What, in the words of Philip Larkin, ‘will survive of us’? In the poems on our course, Larkin explores the nature of change and the transience of life. For this reason, I find his poetry thought-provoking and meaningful.
He does not presume to have all the answers, but he does provide us with an honest and fascinating approach to the great questions, and balances suspicion and hope in a way I find both endearing and reassuring. I think that what I most admire about Larkin’s work is his ability to couch these difficult philosophical ideas in simple, colloquial language. Larkin hoped that ‘people in pubs would talk about my poems’. I understand this to mean that he wanted his work to be accessible and for its themes to speak to everyone, not just intellectuals.
I believe he succeeded in this. The honesty, the complex ideas framed in simple language, and the sheer beauty of his poems makes Larkin a poet whose work will stay with me long after I have finished my Leaving Cert studies. (Note: You must reflect the wording of the title in your essay, so it should be included at this stage in your essay. ) ‘MCMIV’ is a snapshot of a moment in time just before the world it portrays changes utterly. The men in the photo are queuing to enlist in the army and are ‘Grinning as if it were all / An august Bank Holiday lark’.
We, like Larkin, know that what they are facing is far from a game and that few of them will return to tend the gardens they left tidy before their departure. One of the aspects of this poem that appeals to me most is the way in which Larkin blends the charming, nostalgic descriptions of England at the outbreak of World War I with the idea of a threat hanging over all of this beauty and all of this innocence. The England the men are leaving is beautifully, simply and nostalgically described. The children wear old-fashioned