Skip to main content
Try Wikispaces Classroom now.
Brand new from Wikispaces.
Pages and Files
The Whitsun Weddings was inspired by a train journey which the poet made from Hull to London on Whit Saturday, 1955. The poem was finally completed in October 1958, following repeated redrafting. More than a quarter of a century later (1981) Larkin recalled the genesis of one of his best poems.
Larkin claimed there was nothing of himself in The Whitsun Weddings, but his biographer, the English Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, maintains there is everything of the poet in the poem the longing for love as well as the standing aloof and detached, attracted to the young girls, but not prepared for the commitment of marriage.
The Whitsun Weddings is Larkin's longest poem, narrated in a slow, unhurried, leisurely fashion which re-enacts a sense of the long, easy train journey from Hull to London. In literature a journey frequently functions as a metaphor for life itself. The poem reflected the marriage nowadays, and how they are and some of them end.
In the opening movement of the poem; Larkin describes the train and the physical landscape, urban and rural, at the outset of his journey. In the second movement of the poem, the poet is a detached, middle class observer, amused almost to the point of disdain, as he watches and describes the different working class wedding parties assembled on the platforms of various railway stations. Social observation becomes social prejudice on the part of the middle class, intellectual poet. However, the mood of the third and final movement changes to one of serious meditation as the solitary bachelor ponders the significance of what he observes. Thus there is a very noticeable shift from description to reflection.
On other hand, a metaphorical sense the poem itself is a journey from visual observation to social comment to idealistic musing. This means that they try to compare the real life, and how we can see the real marriages in different ways.
In conclusion, the train journey is essentially Larkin expectation of how the marriages of the couples who have boarded the train will turn out; the coach moves out of the vibrant and colorful countryside into the boring and repetitive urban area then the train comes to a complete stop. The interpretation is that this is the disintegration of a marriage and actually has quite depressing undertones dependant on from the angle from which you view it.
The disintegration of marriages
“All posed irresolutely, watching us go,
As if out on the end of an event”
Different portraits on rural and urban societies
“We passed them, grinning and pomaded, girls
In parodies of fashion, heels and veils,”
“The nylon gloves and jewellery-substitutes,”
“And banquet-halls up yards, and bunting-dressed”
Weddings seem like they are at the end, in their early hours
“Coach-party annexes, the wedding-days
Were coming to an end. All down the line
Fresh couples climbed aboard: the rest stood round;
The last confetti and advice were thrown,”
A critic to children’s abandon
“Just what it saw departing: children frowned
At something dull; fathers had never known
help on how to format text
Turn off "Getting Started"