A critic has said that 'A theme which dominates Larkin's poetry is that desire is ultimately unobtainable' Discuss two or three of Larkin's poems in the context of this statement. In your answer you should consider:.
- The various forms of desire that Philip Larkin explores .
- The conclusions that he draws.
In the poems; 'Here', 'Essential Beauty' and 'Faith healing' Larkin explores the universal theme of desire. .
The poem 'Here' follows a car journey through different types of landscapes. Larkin comments on what he sees, contrasting the natural world with modern, commercialised society. He criticises the way of life in cities while longing for the isolation of the natural world.
He also makes a comparison between the countryside which is natural and without confines and the suburbs which seem natural but are being exploited. This conveys his favouritism of the natural world because he desires the isolation it offers him. However, he also notes that nature is indifferent to his needs and therefore his desire is unobtainable. .
Another comparison made by Larkin is between his desire for isolation and modern society's desire for material goods. He is uncomplimentary towards these people suggesting that they are shallow in their desires. In contrast, he elevates and justifies his own desires by portraying the natural world as meaningful and unique. .
This desire for the isolation of the natural world isn't something he shares with other people. He seems to be the only one who appreciates the beauty of the countryside while the 'cut- price crowd' are too 'simple' to appreciate anything other than material possessions. .
The poem is split up into four stanzas, each one representing a different type of landscape. The lines have similar length and punctuation is used to create a regular rhythm which could represent the progression of the journey. .
The word 'swerving' is used to introduce the poem and is repeated in the second line.