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A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s ‘Water’

A summary of a short Larkin poem

Philip Larkin wrote several poems about religion, such as ‘Church Going’, and memorably described it as a ‘vast moth-eaten musical brocade’ in ‘Vers de Société’. Larkin had a sceptical attitude to religion, being an atheist and self-described ‘Anglican Agnostic’ – like Thomas Hardy, Larkin had a fondness for the language and literature of the Anglican Church. ‘Water’ is an unusual Larkin poem in several ways, as the following short analysis aims to highlight. You can read Philip Larkin’s ‘Water’ here.

‘Water’ was written in 1954, a year before he went to work at the library of Hull University. The poem is unusual not least because, unlike many of Philip Larkin’s poems, it’s written in free verse, with no rhyme scheme or regular metre; only a handful of his other famous poems, such as ‘Going’, ‘Days’, ‘Afternoons’, and ‘Solar’, are similarly unrhymed and in free verse. (Even ‘MCMXIV’ has some rhymes.) Read the rest of this entry