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An Arundel Tomb Philip Arthur Larkin Lecture 28. About the Poet Philip Arthur Larkin was Born Aug 9,1922, Warwickshire, England and died Dec 2,1985, Kinston.

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Presentation on theme: "An Arundel Tomb Philip Arthur Larkin Lecture 28. About the Poet Philip Arthur Larkin was Born Aug 9,1922, Warwickshire, England and died Dec 2,1985, Kinston."— Presentation transcript:

1 An Arundel Tomb Philip Arthur Larkin Lecture 28

2 About the Poet Philip Arthur Larkin was Born Aug 9,1922, Warwickshire, England and died Dec 2,1985, Kinston upon Hull. He is the most representative and highly regarded of the post- war British poets who gave expression to a clipped, anti-romantic sensibility prevalent in English verse in the 1950s. He was a poet, novelist and also a distinguished jazz and literary critic.

3 About the Poet His first published poem, ‘Ultimatum’, appeared in The Listener in 1940 when Larkin was eighteen years old. Neither his first published verse collection, The North Ship (1945) nor his novels (Jill, 1946 and A Girl in Winter, 1947) received much critical acclaim. It was his second collection of poems, The Less Deceived, published by the Hull-based Marvell Press, that brought him fame in 1955. This was followed by The Whitsun Weddings in 1964 and High Windows in 1974.

4 About the Poet In 2003, almost two decades after his death, Larkin was chosen as 'the nation's best-loved poet' in a survey by the Poetry Book Society, and in 2008, The Times named Larkin as the greatest British post-war writer. His poems show influence of W. H. Auden, W.B. Yeats, and Thomas Hardy in the flexibility of verse form and high structure. His poetry is characterized as colloquial, reflective, ironic and skeptic and symbolic.

5 About the Poet Jean Hartley summed his style up as a "piquant mixture of lyricism and discontent.” Terence Hawkes has argued that while most of the poems in The North Ship are "metaphoric in nature, heavily indebted to Yeats's symbolist lyrics", the subsequent development of Larkin's mature style is "not... a movement from Yeats to Hardy, but rather a surrounding of the Yeatsian moment (the metaphor) within a Hardyesque frame".

6 About the Poet In Hawkes's view, "Larkin's poetry... revolves around two losses": the "loss of modernism", which manifests itself as "the desire to find a moment of epiphany", and "the loss of England, or rather the loss of the British Empire, which requires England to define itself in its own terms when previously it could define 'Englishness' in opposition to something else."

7 About the Poet His poetry is often seen as typically ambivalent with their prolonged debates with despair contrasted with the energy of their language and form which give them transcendent beauty. Larkin’s writing style identify him as a modernist; he is more and more seen as a poet of high standing, Tijana Stojkovic writes, "Philip Larkin is an excellent example of the plain style in modern times."

8 About the Poet Stephen Regan notes in an essay entitled "Philip Larkin: a late modern poet" that Larkin frequently embraces devices associated with the experimental practices of Modernism, such as "linguistic strangeness, self-conscious literariness, radical self- questioning, sudden shifts of voice and register, complex viewpoints and perspectives, and symbolist intensity".

9 Modernism It evolved from the Romantic rejection of Enlightenment positivism and faith in reason. Modernist writers broke with Romantic pieties and clichés and became self-consciously skeptical of language and its claims on coherence. In the early 20th century, novelists such as Henry James and Virginia Woolf (and, later, Joseph Conrad) experimented with shifts in time and narrative points of view.

10 Modernism While T. S. Elliot wrote The Waste Land in the shadow of World War I. Shortly after The Waste Land was published in 1922, it became the archetypical Modernist text, rife with allusions, linguistic fragments, and mixed registers and languages. Other poets most often associated with Modernism include W. H. Auden, Hart Crane, William Butler Yeats, and Wallace Stevens.

11 About the poem This poem, written in 1956 and published in The Whitsun Weddings collection, is based on an actual stone monument, located in Chichester Cathedral. The "Arundel" of the title refers to the nearby town of Arundel, an ancient Roman town lying in a prominent position in hills overlooking the River Arun. Larkin had clearly seen the monument for himself, for the poem is characterized by the sense of the observer who looks at the monument, walks around it and begins to notice features as he looks.

12 In this Larkin appreciates that he is only one of a huge number of visitors, across many generations, who have come into the Cathedral, for purposes of worship, for spiritual guidance and consolation, or simply out of curiosity. The monument is located in the Western part of the cathedral, in a side-nave, with the two figures lying together lit by the changing pattern of light and shadow within the cathedral.

13 The figures, which lie side by side on top of the tomb, are Richard Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, and his Countess,. A copy of Larkin's poem is now placed at the base of the statue, so that the modern-day visitor can have the direct experience of both poem and effigy.

14 One of the distinctive features of the poem as a whole is that it uses extremely elaborate images and phrases to suggest the paradoxes and ambiguities about love, human nature and fidelity which run throughout the poem. The poem is written in seven stanzas, each of six lines. The rhyme scheme follows the pattern abbcac. The rhythm of the poem is symbolic of the slow, inexorable passage of time, while these two effigies lie, motionless, side by side.


16 Stanza 1 Side by side, their faces blurred, The earl and countess lie in stone, Their proper habits vaguely shown Literal description of stone effigies of two figures lying side by side on top their tomb – their faces are not distinct. Proper habits: formal, dignified clothes

17 As jointed armour, stiffened pleat, And that faint hint of the absurd - The little dogs under their feet. One figure dressed in armour & thus ‘jointed’, while the countess dressed in stiff garment. At their feet small dogs are represented – a absurd detail.

18 Stanza 2 Such plainness of the pre-baroque Hardly involves the eye, until It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still Baroque: style in art & architecture in Europe in 17 th, 18 th centuries. Gauntlet: protective glove worn by warriors. Initially finds the effigies typical of pre-baroque era, not remarkable.

19 Stanza 2 Clasped empty in the other; and One sees, with a sharp tender shock, His hand withdrawn, holding her hand. Enjambement and oxymoron are used. The stiffness gives way to gentleness and warmth – in the alliterative use of soft ‘h’- forming the thematic centre of the poem. The act of earl surprises the observer & creates sharp feeling of tenderness in him.

20 Stanza 3 They would not think to lie so long. Such faithfulness in effigy Was just a detail friends would see: The couple could not have thought that their act of faithfulness would attract attention. Emphasis on the length of time that has passed since the couple was entombed. Effigy: representation in sculpture, as on a monument.

21 A sculptor's sweet commissioned grace Thrown off in helping to prolong The Latin names around the base. Sweet…grace: the intimate detail only a whim of the sculptor. Thrown off: casual act Actual task was to preserve the Latin names at the base.

22 Stanza 4 They would no guess how early in Their supine stationary voyage The air would change to soundless damage, Significant description of time change and as well as the structure of the poem. Supine: lying on the back, face upwards The air…damage: reference to the invisible pollution due to Industrial Revolution

23 Turn the old tenantry away; How soon succeeding eyes begin To look, not read. Rigidly they Tenantry: status of being a tenant

24 Stanza 5 Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light Each summer thronged the grass. A bright Litter of birdcalls strewed the same Bone-littered ground. And up the paths The endless altered people came, Use of caesuras (pause within a line often find in enjambment) to show the passage of time – each pause is a century or another generation.

25 Stanza 6 Washing at their identity. Now, helpless in the hollow of An unarmorial age, a trough Of smoke in slow suspended skeins Above their scrap of history, Only an attitude remains: The effigies as individuals are eroding – time has made them vulnerable in an ‘unarmorial age’. Skein: a complex tangle

26 Stanza 7 Time has transfigures them into Untruth. The stone fidelity They hardly meant has come to be Their final blazon, and to prove Our almost-instinct almost true: What will survive of us is love. Blazon: a coat of arms or an ostentatious display – a heraldic term here, appropriate to the time at which effigies were carved.

27 Analysis of the Poem Although the product of direct experience, the poem is very much a poem about love. One of the distinctive features of the poem as a whole is that it uses extremely elaborate and developed patterning of related imagery and phrases to suggest (and express) the paradoxes and ambiguities about love, human nature and fidelity which run throughout the poem. The poem uses words and phrases connected with fixity and death, immobility and stasis, such as "still", "stone", "suspended" and "bone".

28 Analysis But the poem also has a number of words and phrases connected with change and time, such as "history", "voyage", "transfigured" and "altered". The effect of this is to suggest a central tension between change and death. The poem also features a number of images connected with "relationship", such as "pleat" and "jointed", to emphasize the central image of the relationship between the couple.

29 Analysis Finally the poem makes use of imagery and phrasing which suggest the notion of lack of clarity - words like "blurred" and "almost" - which emphasize the central motif of not, perhaps, seeing clearly or truly. The effect of this use of imagery is to produce a poem which is extremely rich and suggestive in meaning, where the imagery is itself integral to the meaning of the poem.

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