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 befo... ... 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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