An Analysis of The Building

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An Analysis of The Building

Larkin put "The Building" in the middle of his collection for a reason, it is a pillar that supports the rest of the collection with its long lines and many verses, and because of this, is maybe a bit more clearer than some of his other poems in the ideas and views that are expressed through it. Of course, being a Larkin a poem, there is the obligatory underlayer which so many people miss, but in "The Building" it is easier to discern and comprehend.

The title of the poem, "The Building" already hints at the main theme of the poem. The word "building" is a very vague term and in it's vagueness one can make out the fright of the author for this building, he cannot specify that it is a hospital as if not saying the word will make it go away. At the same time in this poem, Larkin makes out the hospital as the real world, everything around it is fake so that the word "building" is put in contrast to his view of what it really is. The poem starts in this indistinct manner and moves onto a much more definite reality: death.

The first thing we discover about the building is the way it dominates the author's view, of all buildings he can see it is the tallest, it "shows up for miles". Although he doesn't want to know what it is, it dominates his view and his destiny - all men and women end up in the hospital before they die, and there is that sense again, of Larkin's fear of death. He sees that the hospital is the real life, all else is false, you delude yourself all your life about death, pretending that it doesn't exist yet when you get in the hospital you finally have to face the truth. He names the places he would like it to be: a hotel, an airport lounge, a bus, but he can no longer d...

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... to die.

Not yet, perhaps not here, but in the end,

And somewhere like this."

As in most of his poems, he starts with a fear of something, in this case death but comes to realise later on that in fact it is only an inevitable part of life. And he also comes to understand that if people weren't so scared of death than life would be less valued as he hints to in the last part of the poem:

"...a struggle to transcend

The thought of dying, for unless its powers

Outbuild cathedrals nothing contravenes..."

The poem ends disturbingly with "With wasteful, weak, propitiatory flowers". The structure of the poem with nine verses of six lines adds up to 63, but that last odd line makes it more regular, it makes 64 which suggests 8x8, so that the last line might seem a bit irregular and odd but it also completes the poem (and also the rhyme scheme).

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