S-Cool Revision Summary

S-Cool Revision Summary

  • Written in 1964.

  • Larkin describes everyday experience using familiar language.

  • He mostly uses patterned rhymes and rhythms in a traditional way, thumbing his nose at the 'modernist' poetic style of free verse and fragmented lines that need decoding.

  • The landscape is post-war England: housing estates, baby doll dresses, television sets. Is Larkin's bleak backdrop a critique of modern Britain?

  • He rejects detailed analysis of his poems. But perhaps his claim that his poems don't have wider implications is bogus?

  • Is it true that Larkin 'writes for the common man, but doesn't enjoy his company?'

  • The Whitsun Weddings treats gloomy subjects, but with humour and irony.

  • Larkin's self-deprecating personality makes many readers find his character sympathetic. Which poems do you think speak in his 'own' voice?

Theme Poems which treat this theme First-person voice Third-person voice
The Passage of Time Love Songs in Age   Copyright S-cool
The Whitsun Weddings Copyright S-cool  
MCMXIV (1914)   Copyright S-cool
A Study in Reading Habits Copyright S-cool  
Reference Back Copyright S-cool  
Afternoons   Copyright S-cool
An Arundel Tomb   Copyright S-cool
Fantasy vs. Real Life Love Songs in Age   Copyright S-cool
Wild Oats Copyright S-cool  
A Study in Reading Habits Copyright S-cool  
Sunny Prestatyn   Copyright S-cool
Social Isolation Here   Copyright S-cool
Mr Bleaney Copyright S-cool  
The Importance of Elsewhere Copyright S-cool  
Marriage and Relationships The Whitsun Weddings Copyright S-cool  
Self's the Man Copyright S-cool  
Talking in Bed   Copyright S-cool
Dockery and Son Copyright S-cool  
Wild Oats Copyright S-cool  
The Importance of Love Love Songs in Age   Copyright S-cool
Faith Healing   Copyright S-cool
An Arundel Tomb   Copyright S-cool
Religion Faith Healing   Copyright S-cool
Water Copyright S-cool  
Ignorance   Copyright S-cool
Fear of Death Toads Revisited Copyright S-cool  
Ambulances   Copyright S-cool
Nothing to be Said   Copyright S-cool

Possible Questions:

With reference to at least two poems, discuss how Larkin presents marriage in The Whitsun Weddings.

'Larkin derives abiding truths from everyday observation'. Choose three poems from The Whitsun Weddings and explore them in the light of this statement.

Look again at the poem 'Faith Healing'. Explore the ideas in the poem, and the way in which they are presented.

Tips for exam preparation:

  • Try to study at least five of the poems closely. Make a checklist for yourself of their voice, structure, striking images and ideas. Look up any words you don't know.

  • Remember that the examiner is interested in detail - explain the impact of individual words and phrases. Avoid long, unexplained quotes.

  • Make your response personal. Try to express your own feeling about the poems you discuss

  • Respond directly to the question: circle key words and echo them in your answer

  • Plan which poems you will use to make your argument. It is much better to discuss 2 or 3 in detail than to skim over a larger number.