Philip Larkin: An Appellant for Love

What will survive of us is love - Philip Larkin
Philip Larkin: An Apellant for Love

What will survive of us is love.
Philip Larkin

This line from the poem, An Arundale Tomb, summarizes the essence of Philip Larkin’s poetry.

Though for the first time readers, Larkin may seem dark, cynical and pessimistic, but if we dig deep, we may find that he was just a child in a man’s body traumatized by the harshness of his extremely misogynistic and mother-abusing father, who also had sympathies for Nazis. (This can be attributed to his racism which was revealed after his death. But to his defence, one may quote from Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts, “It's not only what we have inherited from our father and mother that walks in us. It's all sorts of dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we can't get rid of them.”)

Leaving aside the controversy, Larkin is pleading to you to think about life again. He wants us to ask ourselves one simple question “what is the meaning of life if not love?”

Larkin, again and again, ask this question, through his poems, “Where can we live but days? (Days)”, “Something is pushing them/To the side of their own lives. (Afternoons)”, and “That how we live measures our own nature (Mr. Bleany).”

He also argues, life is not worthy of some endless futile debates of religion and science as he describes through the line “the priest and the doctors, (Days)” or a hopeless wait for something extraordinary to happen “We think each one will heave to and unload/All good into our lives (Next, Please).”

According to him, as an appellant for love, the answer to this penultimate question to life is to live and love because what will survive of us is love.

Image Credit: Stocksnap

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