The Old Fools By Philip Larkin Analysis

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The four main poems that shall be predominantly dealt with are “Aubade”, The "Old Fools", "Ambulances" and "The Building”. A few other poems which have some thematic similarity will also be dealt with to substantiate the argument.

As far as death is concerned Larkin can be said to be somewhat obsessed with this idea. The note struck by the quatrain in “The North Ship” –“This is the first thing\I have understood: \Time is the echo of an axe\Within a wood”-has been repeated throughout his mature work with gradually increasing clarity and intensity. One of the reasons for the enduring popularity of these poems is that they are not offered as a study of death. Rather the reader is taken into sharing the terror of death. The poet is expressing
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Apparently, the theme of death diminishes the distance which is so typical of the Larkin persona-a detached observer. But in these poems the narrator is rather the helpless co-participant; the universal sharer of the inevitable outcome of life-of what “We shall find out.”In “High Windows” Larkin’s own ‘terrible dread’ of death removes his isolation from society and brings a poignant concentration on the inevitability of ageing and death. In the second part of “The Old Fools” there is an attempt to realize their position from the inside and is a realization that he and the old fools share a common destiny. This link is implied in the image of life as a shared landscape whose perspectives are seen very differently depending on the point reached in life’s journey: “This must be what keeps them quiet The peak that stays in view wherever we go For them is rising …show more content…
However, whether we are all fooled or we willfully let ourselves be fooled by what we call life is a matter of debate. The poem culminates in a final single line, no longer a question expressing incredulity but a stark statement that draws attention to our shared fate. “We” is used for the very first time and understandably so. It shows the sudden horrified awareness that death is not to be avoided by anyone; not even with the power of self-awareness. Being less deceived might yield rewards on other occasions but not here. Terry Whallen goes even further to say that this involvement with the old fools and the attempt to assess them leads to his bewildered reverence and tough compassion. This is based on the recognition of their mysterious calm as opposed to his mortal fears. This involvement on the part of the narrator is striking when compared with the countless poems where the poetic persona is a detached observer-exposing deceptions and trying to be less deceived. A similar tone can be found in “Ambulances” which ends with: “Brings closer what is left to come, /And dulls to distance all we

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