Philip Larkin’s poetry topics range from rants about sex to his experiences with religion. Religion is one of the most predominant topics he uses and his attitude towards religion is seen through these poems. In several of his poems his attitude towards religion is shown through his various uses of diction and sarcasm. He writes about some church experiences and other experiences with God. Larkin has a sarcastic attitude towards religion in order to show his doubt in faith.
Through lots of Larkin’s poetry, religion is mentioned in some way or another. To begin, Larkin reflects on what comes after death in his poem “Aubade.” He questions when, where and how he is going to die, and most importantly what happens after he dies. He then refers to religion in a sarcastic and bitter way when he exclaims, “Religion used to try, / That vast moth-eaten musical brocade / Created to pretend we never die” (Larkin, 22-24). Larkin’s particular attitude towards religion in this poem is seen through a sarcastic tone. He refers to the afterlife mentioned in religion as a “moth-eaten musical brocade.” In other words, a fancy fabric tattered and covered in holes made to look nice due to the wonderful music it creates. This is metaphorical for religion. Religion is the rich and fancy fabric that sounds pleasant to ones ears, but in reality it is full of holes and doubts. Larkin looks past the fabric’s pleasantness and is able to see the holes in religion. He claims that religion is man made to make others believe that they never actually die because there is an afterlife. Larkin’s sarcasm towards the afterlife shows how much doubt he has in faith. This poem concludes that Larkin doesn’t believe in an afterlife, and ridicules religion itself and t...
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...g that hermits are asses who preach foolish beliefs, and that the afterlife is only there for people not to fear death, and lastly that old churches will eventually become homes to Christmas addicts, it’s possible to conclude that Philip Larkin is very doubtful about his and humanity’s faith in religion. Larkin doesn’t seem to feel spiritual while in a church or that there is life for him after death. The only thing he is sure of is that the things being preached are foolish. Thus, Larkin’s sarcasm proves to be his disguise when expressing his opinion about controversial subjects such as religion and faith.
Larkin, Philip. “Aubade.” 1977
Larkin, Philip. “Church Going.” 1954.
Larkin, Philip. “Vers de Société.” 1971.
Schray, Kateryna A.. "To Seek This Place for What It Was": Church Going in Larkin's Poetry." South Atlantic Review 67.2 (2002): 52-64.
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