Philip Larkin Love and Marraige

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Love and Marriage with Philip Larkin and Eavan Boland
Ashley Couch
Houghton College

It is strange how time changes relationships. When I first started dating the man who is now my fiancée, one of my biggest fears was of walking down the aisle on our wedding day, feeling unsure that I was making the right decision by marrying him. Now what I most often fear for our relationship is falling out of love, as so many couples do. This is something I brood on, discuss, and develop intricate strategies against. It sounds obsessive, writing it out like that, yet I doubt I am alone, or even in the minority, in this way. All engaged couples want their relationships to last. Probably this is part of the reason the poems of Philip Larkin and Eavan
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Secondly, Desdemona is “white” in the sense that she is pure – innocent of the marital infidelity with which she is accused. This “white bride” of Shakespeare is smothered in her marriage bed by her husband Othello, who is driven to this deed by his fierce jealousy. Additionally, Desdemona is the only prominent character in the play Othello who is not tainted in any way by marital infidelity, and thus becomes the symbol for faithful marriage love. Larkin’s image of a “white bride,” which he intends to represent pure love, figuratively drowned in her bed, strongly evokes the image of Desdemona’s face, observed to be as pale as the dress she is wearing after her death. Whereas in the first stanza of “Who Called Love Conquering” Larkin uses the image of a plant dying to represent love’s demise, in the last stanza he uses images of human death instead. He speaks of an early sundown, a well-worn symbol for untimely death, saying that the “tiny curled greeds / Grapple the sun down / By three o’clock” (8-10). In the last two lines of the poem he mentions “the dire cloak of dark” – evoking the image of a death shroud – which “[s]tiffens the town” like a corpse affected by rigor mortis over which the shroud is placed (1112). Roger Bowen, who sees

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