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Afternoons -- Philip Larkin

Guest poem submitted by Anita:
(Poem #1558) Afternoons
 Summer is fading:
 The leaves fall in ones and twos
 From trees bordering
 The new recreation ground.
 In the hollows of afternoons
 Young mothers assemble
 At swing and sandpit
 Setting free their children.

 Behind them, at intervals,
 Stand husbands in skilled trades,
 An estateful of washing,
 And the albums, lettered
 Our Wedding, lying
 Near the television:
 Before them, the wind
 Is ruining their courting-places

 That are still courting-places
 (But the lovers are all in school),
 And their children, so intent on
 Finding more unripe acorns,
 Expect to be taken home.
 Their beauty has thickened.
 Something is pushing them
 To the side of their own lives.
-- Philip Larkin
I came across this poem in the Philip Larkin site [1] and really liked the
images captured so neatly in this poem, especially the last stanza. It is
one of those 'snapshots in time' where the passage of time has been brought
out very vividly. This poem was a part of his widely acclaimed 'The Whitsun
Weddings' collection.

Larkin is a heavily represented poet on Minstrels, so I have nothing further
to add by way of biography.

Anita.

[1] http://www.philiplarkin.com

53 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

jhan si said...

i have this poem as a self study assignment. can you please send in more details about it and also a few contemporary criticisms on it?

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In 2010 the city marked the 25th anniversary of his death with the Larkin 25 Festival. A video was commissioned to illustrate Larkin's poem "Here", his hymn to Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

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This peom is fantastic. I remeber my mom loved and I read it to her every single night before she died. when I saw it here, I have to say I feel a weird sensation and I almost cry.

Anonymous said...

Studied this for higher English aaaahhhh

Anonymous said...

I was at a rather well to do school, which was very like Malory Towers, Enid Blyton's creation. We all thought the world was our oyster and had this incredibly romantic and idealistic view of life. I remember this being the first Phil Larkin poem we studied and we had to memorise it. When we all got in in the morning, before class, we'd all be chanting it, saying the word "comma" and doing it in an immitation of Larkin's voice and laughing away about how good we all were at it. It was the most carefree recital and for this poem, of all of them, it seems very ironic. We're now 32. And lots of people have that wedding album, lots of people have the marriages that weren't the ones we thought we'd have as we chanted away in our matching uniforms. We're struggling to afford children and having to accept compromises we didn't ever consider. Reading it for the first time in 16 years has been quite revealing. One doesn't realise how much time passes and I sort of wish I could read it again robotically in PL's accent and try and out-do my class mates, with my exact repetition of every semi-colon etc. We didn't even consider the idea that we'd ever be living it.

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