In the poem Mr. Blarney, Larkin does indeed portray a theme of loneliness. From his 1964 Whitish Weddings collection and written in 1955, the pain and memory of the Second World War were still very much present in the minds of the British people, and the country was in a state of Post-War Depression. The language used by the poet also reinforces this attitude. Initially, we are confronted by the monotonous name, ‘Mr. Blarney, which itself sounds very lackluster and represents an uninteresting man who led a life absent of excitement.
The use of rhyming couplets in an ABA format symbolisms the repetitious nature of Mr. Blarneys life and how it ill always remain unchanging, a pattern that he couldn’t escape. Another technique used by Larkin to show Mr. Blarneys lifestyle is the use of enjambment at the beginning and end of each stanza, signifying the continuous downward spiral that Mr. Blarney was unable to escape; a cycle that the persona may have also have entered. Every description of the room reinforces the idea that Mr. Blarney led a lonely and unhappy life such as the curtains that were thin and frayed’ and the strip of ‘littered’ building land.
The ‘sixty-watt bulb’ reference shows us that his existence was dull ND dim, lacking any power or vitality. The casual, ‘so it happens’ in the second line of the third stanza, is demonstrating how the speaker has resigned themselves to living this empty life but also that they didn’t have a choice in the matter which makes the reader wonder whether Mr. Blarney had a choice in regards to his loneliness or whether he was Just cast out and forgotten. It is confirmed that the speaker is living the ghost of Mr. Blarneys life when he says that he ‘knows his habits’ and ‘his preference for sauce to graving.
The notion that he is but a memory is repeated when he speaker talks of the ‘Friction folk who put him up for summer holidays’. The poet’s use of ‘put him up’ gives us the feeling that Mr. Blarney was only there out of convenience or that the people in mention only gave him a place to stay out of pity rather than friendship. Throughout the poem there are connotations of death such as the whole time he was at the Bodies’. The capitalization of ‘Bodies’ could represent that it is a place but also has a noticeable connection to death, leading us to believe that Mr..
Blarney is indeed deceased. In addition in the final stanza, whilst in reality ‘one hired box’ means the mom that he rents, it could also be a reference to the coffin that Mr. Blarney left in. In the final line, the concluding ‘I don’t know sounds weary and tired as though the persona is unsure as to whether he deserves any better than Mr. Blarney. The constant references to loneliness in this poem make the reader wonder how self- worth is evaluated, be it based on friendship or material possessions, both of which Mr. Blarney lacks.
On the other hand, in the poem ‘Dockers and Son’, the main theme is one of bitterness and Jealousy. The title reminds us of a family firm, more specifically a unreal parlous which gives us the expectation that this will be a melancholic piece. ‘Dockers was Junior to you, wasn’t he’, shows that Dockers was younger than the speaker and so you can assume he is further away from death, something Larkin was hyper aware of. This is soon followed by ‘death-suited’, showing that perhaps this initial part of the poem is set at a funeral.
Straight after however, the speaker’s train of thought is en-dashed to show that it has been cut off. It symbolisms him cutting off and his lack of interest in listening to the Dean of the college. The poem now enters TTS second stage where the speaker seems to be reminiscing over their university years but also reflecting on their life up to the present day. ‘He tries the door’ of where he previously lived and the enjambment onto the next line, ‘locked’ shows that his past life is but a memory.
However, Dockers still has that connection to the university through his son whereas the speaker does not. The quote, the lawn spreads dazzlingly wide’ shows that the university is a grand place, and that the persona is almost insignificant in comparison to it. Again, this could be comparative to Larrikin own life reflecting on his time at Oxford University. But Dockers, good lord’, shows the reader that he is shocked, almost bordering on outrage, that Dockers has a son and he does not.
This leads him to question how much he knew about his contemporaries and reinforces the idea that he no longer has any connection to university which he so clearly adored, not even through his old friends. The furnace-glares of Sheffield’ are a dramatic contrast to the ‘dazzling lawns’ of the university and represent what reality is like for him and his Jealousy of Dockers son. The ‘Joined and parting lines’ of the railway track are a metaphor for his life and legislations; they could have been together, but they went their separate ways.