But this is all he is talking about, in these poems he would be most discriminated for, yet all he is thinking about is his own feelings and thoughts, not about the women’s at all, so i don’t feel that anyone can judge if he sympathises with the women or not as he isn’t taking them into consideration. True he does talk about women as objects but only because he wishes he could as this would give him more power in that respect. He proves he doesn’t believe in himself through the fact that he ended up dating the ‘friend’ who he didn’t find as attractive as the other ‘bosomy rose’.
Like the previous two poems, ‘Faith Healing’ could be thought of as also being about himself in the way that they were about his way of thinking and the way he acts or his relationships. Even though this poem is seemingly about women, we are able to notice a rather jealous tone when Larkin speaks about how ‘women file’ up like a flock of ‘sheep’ and will follow whatever is said to them using in this case a religious speaker. Larkin describes the speaker as being Godly; ‘rimless glasses, silver hair, dark suit, white collar’ being able to ‘persuade’ women to do whatever he wants them to do, believe whatever he wants them to believe.
One may think that this is another mention of his fantasies; being able to tell women what to do yet i feel the poem does in-fact have a sympathetic tone to it. Either sympathetic towards the women not being able to think for themselves, even though he is rather patronising towards them by using animalistic terms such as ‘hoarse tears’, ‘thick tongues and ‘sheepishly stray’ or towards himself for not being the person who he wants to be.
One poem that most definitely contrasts to the other poems is ‘Self’s the Man’, this is because there is blatant sympathy showed by Larkin, sympathy that still may not please people but i feel no-one will be able to argue with Larkin’s truthful feelings portrayed in this poem. Larkin tells us in this poem about his friend ‘Arnold’ and his married life. Larkin tells us that Arnold is ‘less selfish’ than he is in the way that Larkin feels he is a ‘swine’ because he has a better life than him. He feels sorry for Arnold because he is stuck with a woman ‘all day’ and she orders him round so much that ‘he has no time at all’.
Larkin spends the first half of the poem describing Arnold’s life, sympathising with him but also laughing at him for being such a fool. Towards the end of the poem we see Larkin starting to question his theory by asking himself if it was ‘such a mistake’ and finishing off the poem saying he knows ‘what i can stand… or i suppose i can’ which shows he is thoroughly doubting who is better off. So in this poem we can see a change in Larkin’s views from the sympathetic, mocking view to hesitating on whether in-fact are people sympathising with him because of his situation.
The final poem i will look at, i feel of one of the saddest poems Larkin has written as in ‘Afternoons’ we see him describe a stage in a young mothers life where her youth is ‘fading’ and she has got stuck into a routine. This routine is also described by saying the ‘mothers assemble’ rather than meet up which suggests they have a strict and controlled life. The word ‘hollows’ also conveys an emptiness in their lives, words such as ‘hollows’, ‘fading’ and ‘fall’ create a very sad tone that has not been seen in many of Larkin’s poems as they suggest a huge loss in their lives, causing Larkin to sympathise with the young mothers.
Also we can see Larkin sympathise with married women in general which is very surprising in itself as he says that ‘stand husbands, ‘their children’ and ‘an estateful of washing’ dominate their lives. From this i have come to the conclusion that in relation to the question ‘how fair is the criticism… Larkin has… a lack of sympathy in his poetry’ i believe it is not fair, Larkin is sympathetic. Perhaps he is not as sympathetic as some poets but i feel that for a man with Larkin’s views, through his poetry he is able to sympathise with himself and his own views and also sympathise with others if that is what he was not to write about.
I do not feel that Larkin should be discriminated because of his poetry purely because his poetry is his views; he should have to start sympathising with people if that is not what he believed in. From this selection of poems, i personally have identified sympathy in all the poems i have looked at. I feel that sympathy towards yourself can still count as being sympathetic and i honestly feel that Larkin often was not happy with himself in the ways he felt inadequate and not able to be someone he wishes he would be.
‘Afternoons’ showed the most sympathy and unusually towards women which was very rare for him to look at a woman’s point of view. Still it proves he can still sympathise with women if he actually thinks about them and their views. In his other poems he usually only concentrates of himself which might cause readers to think that he isn’t being sympathetic but why would you need to talk about other people in your own poetry? He would not have thought of a target audience that a novelist would.
He usually does talk about himself but as proven in ‘Afternoons’, when he does choose to think away from his point of view Larkin does show a sympathetic side backed up with an even more surprising saddened tone. This showing that even a stubborn man such as Larkin can still identify with other people in a sympathetic manor. Georgina Sims Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Philip Larkin section.