Monday, January 30, 2012

Analysis of Philip Larkin's "High Windows"

(1922-1985)



High Windows

When I see a couple of kids
And guess he’s fucking her and she’s   
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,   
I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives—   
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the long slide

To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if   
Anyone looked at me, forty years back,   
And thought, That’ll be the life;
No God any more, or sweating in the dark

About hell and that, or having to hide   
What you think of the priest. He
And his lot will all go down the long slide   
Like free bloody birds. And immediately

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:   
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.


Analysis
“Swinging London” was a term coined by Time magazine, in their April 15, 1966 issue, in order to define the culture and fashion scene in 1960s London. Philip Larkin’s poem High Windows was written in 1967 amidst the “Summer of Love,” in London. The “summer of love” introduced drug use and “free” sex. During this summer, the Beatles released what a lot of people consider to be their greatest album: “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Religion’s hold on youth began to wan with this new generation of “free thinkers.” Sex was both talked about and done indiscriminately, which challenged the Church’s authority because until now sex before marriage was seen as whorish. The young took charge of their bodies and minds and revolutionized society’s tendency to be conservative. Larkin appears to be envious of this generation, because it was everything that he had hoped for when he was their age. Larkin was a life-long bachelor; he had several sexual relationships, but was never married. This new generation brought sex into the forefront; no longer did people whisper about it in locked up rooms with the curtains drawn, participating in and enjoying sex was no longer shameful.   
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Acknowledgments
Larkin image: http://www.recording-microphones.co.uk/images/Philip%20Larkin.jpg

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