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Afternoons by Philip Larkin

            Afternoons is a poem by Philip Larkin that presents time as a destructive force. The poem depicts young mothers in the 50s at a park with their children and goes on to explore the inevitability of change and the passing of youth. He presents the lives of the mothers in the poem to seem melancholy and unfulfilled although we are unsure if this is how they truly feel as he only observes externally and does not consider their feelings. The poet shows time as a destructive force through showing how they are trapped into their daily routines, using the seasons as an extended metaphor and showing how the children in the poem will inevitably follow their mothers example.
             Philip Larkin develops the idea of time as a destructive force through the extended metaphor about the seasons. The poem is set at the end of summer where it is slowly transitioning into autumn. The beginning line 'summer is fading' introduces the symbolic use of time in the poem. Seasons are used in the poem to symbolism certain stages in life. In autumn, most life starts to fade away and diminish and this is the point of their lives in which the mothers are currently at. The bright excitement and summer of their youth has turned into the dull, routine of motherhood symbolizing autumn. The use of the word 'fading' is effective as it creates a negative tone of disappointment and sadness. It gives the image that the mothers are slowly disappearing as they progress on in their life towards their imminent, unavoidable ageing process and mortality. The repeated seasonal imagery relates to the theme as it shows time has destroyed their youth as they prematurely were launched into the responsibility of adulthood.
             The poet effectively presents time as a destructive force by showing how the mothers are trapped into their daily routines. The poet presents their lives as dull, repetitive and empty, which is common to a young women housewife in the 1950s.

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