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Whitsun Weddings, The

The Less Deceived

larkin poems collection verse

Philip Larkin's third collection of poems, published to widespread critical acclaim in 1964. The book contains many demonstrations of his remarkable technical accomplishment in accommodating an essentially conversational mode of expression within elaborately constructed rhymed stanzas. Much of the poetry extends the sceptical clarity of vision established in The Less Deceived, although a more specific and aggressive social critique is articulated; ‘The Large Cool Store’, ‘Essential Beauty’, and other poems comment on a commercially oriented society's exploitation of the human capacity for imaginative fulfilment. Such poems firmly imply the compassionate identification of values central to common experience which is most clearly stated in the celebration of change and renewal of the title poem and in the concluding affirmation that ‘What will survive of us is love’ of ‘At an Arundel Tomb’. Larkin's purposeful humour is also more distinct than it had previously been; the incisive light verse of ‘Naturally the Foundation Will Bear Your Expenses’ amuses at the expense of complacency and presumptuousness in the academic profession; ‘Take One Home for the Kiddies’ uses effects of light verse to make its harrowing point concerning mistreatment of animals, while the calculated scurrility of ‘A Study of Reading Habits’ enjoins readers to ‘Get stewed: | Books are a load of crap’. ‘Here’ is perhaps the most notable example of the refinement and concentration with which Larkin uses a wide range of urban and natural imagery to achieve the vivid particularity characteristic of the collection.

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