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A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s ‘Going, Going’

A reading of one of Larkin’s most famous poems

We’ve analysed a fair few Philip Larkin poems over the last year or so, and had largely said everything we had to say about his work. But we’ve been inspired to write about ‘Going, Going’ because of popular demand, of a kind. Another of our posts, an analysis of another Larkin poem titled simply ‘Going’, has been receiving a great deal of traffic, but people have reached it by searching for an analysis of ‘Going, Going’. Which is a completely different poem. Since ‘Going, Going’ is fine late Larkin, we thought we’d offer some thoughts on this poem, which you can read here.

‘Going, Going’: the title immediately summons the third, unspoken word in the usual auctioneer’s phrase: ‘Going, going, gone.’ Britain is not quite gone altogether, but it is going, and it is being auctioned off, sold to the highest bidder. This, in a sentence, is the ‘gist’ or meaning of Larkin’s poem. But as ever with Larkin, the way he explores and puts across this idea is a masterclass in verse-making. Read the rest of this entry


A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s ‘Here’

A reading of Larkin’s classic Hull poem

Philip Larkin (1922-85) completed his poem ‘Here’ in October 1961, and it was included (as the opening poem) in his 1964 collection The Whitsun Weddings. The poem describes and, in its distinctively Larkinesque way, celebrates the city of Hull, where Larkin had been working since 1955 (and where he would live until his death in 1985). You can click here to read ‘Here’, before proceeding to our analysis of the poem below.

In summary, ‘Here’ is about the city of Hull – or, to give it its full name, Kingston-upon-Hull (Hull is one of the rivers running through the city; the more famous Humber is actually situated to the south of the city). The poem describes a journey through the city, with the title, ‘Here’, reminding the reader of the marker on maps declaring ‘You Are Here’. Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s ‘Sympathy in White Major’

A reading of a Larkin poem

‘Sympathy in White Major’ contains perhaps the most mouth-watering description of someone making a gin and tonic to be found in all English poetry. But it is also, like many Philip Larkin poems, about the relation between the self and society, between the individual and the world around him (and in Larkin it is a him). What follows are some notes towards an analysis of this intriguing poem.

A brief summary of the three stanzas that comprise the poem first. The first stanza essentially consists of a description of Larkin (or his poem’s speaker) making a gin and tonic – not the most typical opening for a Philip Larkin poem. But at the end of the stanza we get the beginnings of the poem’s core theme: selflessness. Once the drink is prepared, Larkin raises it in a toast to some unspecific person (perhaps himself), praising this person for devoting their life to others. Read the rest of this entry