rivers, poem. The most important themes are isolation

rivers, farms, etc. ,even though they are not really attractive.  Soon he starts hearing some noises made by
newly married couples at each train stations. The couples are probably going to
spend their honeymoon and their relatives ( fathers with “seamy foreheads,”
mothers “loud and fat,” an uncle “shouting smut”, women trying to look fashionable)
came to the station to say good bye to them. Here taste and value differences
between him and those people outside are emphasized with the indication of
class and culture differences that he feels by watching at those people. He
observes them very carefully from outside as a bachelor and as an alienated
outsider. Those couples became inspiration for this poem despite the fact that the
author himself never had interest in marriage or married life. During the whole
poem we can feel the sense of isolation, which with a bigger extent is
expressed in the conclusion part. The man, who doesn’t have curiosity and
interest in other people’s life, where they are going, what they are doing, or
wearing, is obviously a victim of alienation and isolation from the society. In
the end we can conclude that this poem expresses a negative sense towards
weddings by considering them more of a negativity and loss, rather than a
joyful event. The author once again shows that he prefered to be an outsider alienated
from the society.

Another poem which has a unique sense of isolation is  “Talking in Bed”. As I have already mentioned
majority of Larkin’s poems have pessimistic and gloomy sense. This poem is also
not an exception as it is a very melancholic one. Though it is very beautiful
and emotional poem. Like most of his poems “Talking in Bed” also starts with a
daily scenery description where everything seems to be quite normal, then he
goes much deeper and wider to show what he really wanted to say with the help
of the poem. The most important themes are isolation and relationships between
couples. It is also important to mention the fact that even though he had a lot
of different type of relationships during his life, he never got married and
often felt quite lonely and sexually unsatisfied.
Talking in bed ought to be easiest
Lying together there goes back so far
An emblem of two people being honest.

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I would also like to mention that being arranged with tercets suggests
the idea of something incomplete, something missing in a relationship where in
a couple both want to be honest but kind of fail it. According to Larkin, “talking
in bed” is supposed to be “emblem of being honest ” and close to each other,
but, in fact, it is not the way expected. There is dishonesty between them and
the ironic, paradoxical sense which continues throughout the whole poem of
twelve lines.  Lying (can also refer to
lying each other and being dishonest) together and talking in bad should be a
moment of honesty, intimacy and trust, while the author shows how lonely and
isolated we are in this universe. It does not matter how close we can be with
each other in a relationship, we will still experience some loneliness. It is
surely about a married life which we can tell from “goes back so far” meaning
that the couple has been married for a long period of time, though where a
couple instead of feeling safe and honest after living with each other, sharing
so many things including bed, still feels lonely and isolated. In the second
stanza there is some description of weather, which probably refers to an
awkward conversation between two people when there is nothing else to talk and
they are trying to start a conversation.

“And dark towns heap up on the horizon”

 In a negative sense “Dark towns”
refer to isolation, misunderstandings, problems, distrust, arguments, etc.
Darkness predicts the future of their relationship, which obviously is not
going to be a good one.

”At this unique distance from isolation

It becomes still more difficult to find

Words at once true and kind,

Or not untrue and not unkind.”

”At this unique distance from isolation” – this can have double
meaning referring to isolation. In one hand it can be distanced from isolation
and on the other hand it can be used ironically referring to a very close
relationship. And in the final stanza we experience something quite gloomy and
dark. We feel the unfulfilled desire, we feel regret and sadness. We feel that
he is quite alone even thought he is with his lover, but has difficulties in
communicating with her. He is all alone and isolated.

Another poem by Philip
Larkin, which has the theme of isolation and alienation is “Reasons for
Attendance”. Philip Larkin always expressed tendency towards solitude and
alienation and having read the title of the poem, we can already tell that the
author is going to speak about some of his concerns. In this poem the author brings
out the contrast between isolated lonely life and relationships full of
sexuality and passion. The author is following young couples dancing and having
fun in a ballroom, while he is outside and does not take part in the things
taking place inside there. The author is an observer from the outside, who is
partly taking part in the ‘happiness’ inside by watching them from outside. He
questions the reasons they are doing that. He thinks that he doesn’t need to be
with any of those women dancing as he thinks they are not for him, they are
useless. He prefers to stay alone.
“Why be out there? But then, why be in there? Sex, yes”. There are
women under 25 years old having sex and sex is probably their only capacity.
All that they do is entertaining men because of which he considers them toys
for men and doesn’t like it. So he makes the choice to stay outside and alone,
and not take part in their pointless activities.  At the beginning of the poem he is more
appealed in the dance and women, but in the end his decides that all happening
over there is not for him. He had better stay alone and happy, not like those
inside pretending to be happy.
As we noticed, isolation and alienation are key themes in some of Philip
Larkin’s poems. He often wrote about the human being living in a society being
isolated from it, belonging to nowhere and having no close relationships. He
wrote about people who either by their decision or because of having no control
of the situations, become lonely and isolated. 


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