Philip Larkin's "Talking in Bed"

1382 WordsJun 17, 20186 Pages
Philip Larkin’s poem “Talking in Bed” tells the truth about life and how relationships can slowly descend overtime. It explores the idea that no matter how close we are to someone, we can still experience intense depths of loneliness. The language emphasizes the feelings of what an empty marriage may feel like. The poem also gives the impression it is from the male’s perspective. It is written in four stanzas, each with three lines of ten syllables apiece. This makes it a short lyrical ballad. Through the tone, the language, and the imagery, Larkin is able to create a feeling in which he can effectively criticize and deconstruct the subject of innocence in relation to his current life experiences. There are many examples of imagery in this…show more content…
Although the lovers remain silent, "The wind's incomplete unrest / Builds and disperses clouds about the sky", which symbolizes first an eternal yearning for something deeper than is there, and secondly a "clouded," obscure vision of what this something may be. The previously mentioned yearning is shown also by a definition of clouds as "a type of the fleeting or unsubstantial" (Oxford English Dictionary). Whatever it may be that is being searched for cannot be found by lying inert letting time pass by. While this second stanza contemplates the apparently unattainable, the final two seem to convey a feeling of hopelessness in knowing that the clouds may never subside. The third and fourth stanzas offer the poems greatest paradoxes. The author speaks of the lovers being "At this unique distance from isolation" which is to say they are in the one place where they can truly be themselves, in their natural habitat, doing that which is only natural to human instinct. Despite these circumstances, however, the two are at a loss: "It becomes still more difficult to find / Words at once true and kind, / Or not untrue and not unkind." It is through this final stanza that the author conveys the ultimate paradox of human relationships: Relationships are not built upon true love for one another; rather they are built upon the absence of hatred.
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