Afternoons by Philip Larkin
He was a man who was fearful of death and disliked any travelling
abroad. He was a reclusive man who kept the curtains drawn to keep the
sun from fading his books. He dies in 1985; he was to have all his
diaries shredded. In the poem he writes he often seems like an
outsider observing people's lives, as in this poem where he is
watching mothers and their children in a play area.
The poem is set out in three stanzas. The first stanza the poet is
explaining how the parent's youth is fading by the opening line. The
lives of the young mothers are a very safe. This is because they are
situated in a very safe area, with other mothers. They live in a safe
community because it says in the last two ...view middle of the document...
The second stanza is telling us about the way the husband provides
financial support. The women were the ones who did the chores at home,
looked after the children and did the washing. It was the mans job to
help the young mothers with money and with support of housing.
" Behind them, at intervals,
Stand husbands in skilled trades,
An estateful of washing.."
In the second part of the second stanza it says about how the wedding
day of the mothers was the most important day in their lives in the
fifties and sixties. They kept all of the photos as memories. The
wedding was a big event and time for women in the sixties and fifties.
"And the albums, lettered
Our wedding, lying
Near the television:
Before them, the wind
Is running their courting places"
In the last three lines they are saying that the TV in the fifties and
sixties were very rare, so they were the main source of entertainment.
The wind before them was a sign of autumn and that it was beginning to
In the last stanza Philip is trying to tell us that there are still
courting places but they are not being used by the older generation,
they are being used by the next generation.
"That are still courting - places
(But lovers are all in school),
And their children, so intent on
Finding more unripe acorns,
Expect to be taken home."
The older generation are being replaced by the next generation. It is
like the circle of life, the older generation die and the new take on
motherhood and living, then they have children and the whole process
"Their beauty has thickened.
Something is pushing them
To the side of their own lives."