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Philip Larkin's Faith Healing

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How typical in terms of subject, theme, structure and versification is
Faith Healing by Larkin?

Philip Larkin's Faith Healing

In 1964, Philip Larkin published his third book of poetry, entitled
'The Whitsun Weddings'. One of the many critically acclaimed poems was
'Faith Healing'. In this essay, I intend to explore how typical this
poem is in terms of subject, theme, structure and versification.

In Faith Healing, women flock to an American Faith Healer for a
blessing. The persona of the poem is written from an outsider's point
of view, looking in at this sight.

Faith Healing is divided into three stanzas, each of ten lines. Iambic
pentameter is used to give 5 major stresses to each of the 10 lines.
The three stanzas actually contribute to the action of the poem. In
the first stanza, the women go forward to the Faith Healer; in the
second, they leave and 'Sheepishly stray'. Finally, the poem concludes
with the third stanza where Larkin analyses the situation. This
versification is indeed quite typical throughout The Whitsun Weddings.
'Here' is another poem from this collection, and Larkin again writes
in iambic pentameter. He uses the traditional versification to
describe a journey from an industrial city to a place where much more
satisfaction can be gained. This journey was also mapped by the
structure of the poem. Larkin wrote 4 stanzas and each one marked a
progression in the journey. This is similar to Faith Healing where
each stanza moves the story onto the next event or occurrence.

It is a similar case for 'Mr Bleaney' where every line is written in
iambic pentameter, with only one exception for the first line. This
poem also tells a story with the first four verses being descriptive

... middle of paper ...

...t we really desire whereas Faith Healing suggests that
if these women had realised their loneliness earlier in life, they
could have loved and been loved in return. This is only a slight
difference; but is worth considering when asking the question of the
typicality of Faith Healing.

Overall, I feel that the similarities outweigh the differences and it
can be concluded that Faith Healing is infact quite similar to a
selection of the other poems in Whitsun Weddings. There are some
differences and Faith Healing is unique in some respects, such as
Larkin not experiencing this event personally. However, overall Faith
Healing is a typical Larkin poem, with deprivation and loneliness as
themes, iambic pentameter and enjambment as language features and with
initially descriptive stanza's before moving on to conclude with a
reflective and thoughtful panorama.

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