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Arundel Tomb by Philip Larkin Essay Sample

An Arundel Tomb is one of the most interesting poems by Philip Larkin. Published in 1964, the poem has since received an array of criticism. In particular, most critics have had different view points on the main themes of the poem. Nevertheless, love remains one of the significant themes that come out strongly in the poem.

Although other underlying themes such as passage of time, immortality, and fear of death among others cannot be underrated, the theme of love is strongly inherent in Arundel Tomb. In fact, Larkin seems to prove that love survives life, either in real or at least in virtual terms (Gilroy 76). The poet’s emphasizes and hints on the importance of love in various lines and stanzas.

The poem begins with an overview of the sculptor upon which the poem is based; identifying a few indistinct features about the couple. Larkin uses words such as ‘vaguely’ and ‘blurred’ to express such differences (Chatterjee 326). The feeling that comes from Larkin’s description is the stiff contemporary emotions about love so that it appears as a shock that the couple are holding hands. Larkin calls it a ‘tender shock’ suggesting that it is quite pleasing (Chatterjee 326).

In the third stanza, Larkin seems to hint on the timelessness of love. As the years elapse, people come ‘to look’ at the statues and not ‘to read’ the Latin inscriptions below them as the artist perhaps intended. Therefore, what survives of the sculptors is their love -symbolized by the ‘undated snow’ (Gilroy 77).

The final line, ‘what will survive of us is love’ further emphasizes the significance of the theme of love in the poem (Chatterjee 327). In fact, the use of ‘almost’ in the second last line, suggest that love is not definitely true to the poet. His understanding of love is limited, and the faith that could lead to such love remains unattainable. Therefore, love remains an important theme in the poem and further research is needed to define what love really is with respect to Larkin’s assertions.

Work Cited

Chatterjee, Sisir Kumar. Philip Larkin : Poetry that Builds Bridges. New Delhi : Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 2006.

Gilroy, John. Philip Larkin : Selected Poems. Penrith: HEB, Humanities-Ebooks, 2009.