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"Days" by Philip Larkin


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Analysis of "Days" by Philip Larkin and links to Abse poem

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"Days" by Philip Larkin

  1. 1. Philip Larkin
  2. 2. This poem is a thought process, which proposes the unanswerable question: “what are days for?” Indirectly Larkin is questioning what will happen when we run out of days- “where can we live but days” is the saying what happens to us when we run out of days- when we die.
  3. 3. On a deeper level, Larkin explores alternative beliefs on life after death. His image of “the priest and the doctor in their long coats running over the fields” could be about a metaphorical race, to solve the question of what happens to us when we die. The priest represents religion whilst the doctor represents science. Larkin’s style tends to be very pessimistic and cynical however there is a slightly more light-hearted tone within this poem as he suggests days “are to be happy in”. On the other hand, the fact he is puzzling about what will happen to him when he dies could suggest “life is first boredom then fear” (Dockery and Son).
  4. 4. *Rhetorical questions- such as “what are days for?” are used to bring our own thought processes in line with Larkin. *Colloquial language- “Ah” adds informality to the poem, as if it is a discussion between the poet and the reader. *Personification- “they come and they wake us” making the days appear more personal as they effect everyone. *Paradox- “days are where we live”
  5. 5. *‘Faith Healing’- questioning religion. *‘Dockery and Son’ – “life is first boredom then fear” links with the idea there is no afterlife. *‘Reference Back’- “Truly, though our element is time”
  6. 6. Similarities *References to the after life- “To reach the other world” *Larkin speaks of Religion and Science and Abse speaks of ancient Greeks- “Apion” “Homer” “Proteus” “Triton”- Ancient Greeks created much religion and science Differences *No questioning on the existence of an after life (He’s Jewish)-“To reach the other world” *Abse constantly mentions the Gods whereas Larkin keeps an even balance and doesn’t lean more to either theory