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How Larkin Portrays The Past and Attitudes To It In MCMXIV and Home Is So Sad The title of the first poem is in Roman numerals. This grabs the readers attention and makes him work out the translation into English. It in fact translates as 1914, the year of the beginning of the First World War. The title also links to Romans, who in the 50/60’s were often portrayed as great warriors, forever in battle, conquering foreign lands. The use of roman numerals emphasises the date and gives us the impression that Larkin has a lot of respect for those soldiers who fought for their country. The poem opens with setting the scene, which Larkin often does.

Immediately, we can see the contrast Larkin makes about the scene he can see and the modern day (1950’s), in observing how patiently the men stand and wait, criticising the hustle and bustle of this century. Larkin underestimates the naivety of the men who are queuing to sign up to fight for their country in the way he mentions The Oval and Villa Park. Larkin is imagining how those men do not know what they are letting themselves in for and how they are just giving themselves up willingly, signing up for a football or cricket match. This gives the reader the impression that Larkin would not have signed up as freely as they did.

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The vivid scene Larkin creates suggests that he is looking at a photograph. The way Larkin uses a complex rhyme pattern (ABCDEFGD) with a predominant rhyme on lines 4 and 8 mirrors the way that the men cannot see what is really going to happen because they are surrounded by excitement and commotion. In the next stanza, Larkin emphasises more clearly the differences between 1914 and the 1950’s/60’s. Again, it comes across that he prefers traditional family businesses and the innocence of the children, named in respect of the English Monarchy by the way he lists them and conveys the words with a sense of belief.

Larkin does not use enjambment to illustrate the sense of holding on to the innocent times where no-one was killed and everyone was willing to please. He also uses informal language to emphasise how comfortable people felt with each other. The final stanza explains how the war took away the innocence that people had and hit them with issues that they had never before considered. I think Larkin craves to live in that period of time where war had not yet affected lives, before the country’s priorities changed and people were innocent and unaware of what was about to happen.

In this century, people would be a lot less willing to fight for their country because of the experience of the World Wars. I still think that Larkin respects but men who fought, but towards the end of the poem, it became clear that he also pitied them for not knowing what was going to happen, for signing themselves up to die. In the second poem, Home is so sad, Larkin emphasises the title by repeating it as the first phrase of the poem. The word home is associated with being safe, warm and belonging. This immediately forces the reader to question why Larkin says home is so sad.

Larkin goes on to explain that the memories of home stay the same, even if you have to leave it behind. Home is personified as a person, hoping that if they stay as how you fondly remember them, then you will no longer be able to stay away and come back. In reality, this does not happen and the place that was home withers as it has no-one to please, no-one to look nice for and no-one to care for it. The poem illustrates how places can change but memories stay the same and the past is preserved in your thoughts. The second stanza is more negative and contrasts the fond thoughts of the first.

The phrase ‘Long fallen wide’ portrays how the memories may last but in reality, there is a big difference between what you remember it to be like and what it has become. Your memories fall short of expectations and it is too late to go back and put it right. The final 3 lines explain how when you were there, things seem insignificant (the pictures, cutlery etc.. ) but looking back, you realise how important they were and how so many little things made it what it was. They are now just a reminder of what has gone that can never be brought back.

The rhyme pattern (ABABA) is simple and regular, symbolising the journey through life and the regular decisions that have to be made. How you make these decisions is up to you and sometimes you will get it right and sometimes you will get it wrong. The whole poem is based on taking things for granted and not knowing how happy you are until it has gone. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Philip Larkin section.

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