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An Arundel Tomb Analysis



Author: poem of Philip Larkin Type: poem Views: 7

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Side by side, their faces blurred,

The earl and countess lie in stone,

Their proper habits vaguely shown

As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,

And that faint hint of the absurd -

The little dogs under their feet.



Such plainness of the pre-baroque

Hardly involves the eye, until

It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still

Clasped empty in the other; and

One sees, with a sharp tender shock,

His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.



They would not think to lie so long.

Such faithfulness in effigy

Was just a detail friends would see:

A sculptor's sweet commissioned grace

Thrown off in helping to prolong

The Latin names around the base.



They would no guess how early in

Their supine stationary voyage

The air would change to soundless damage,

Turn the old tenantry away;

How soon succeeding eyes begin

To look, not read. Rigidly they



Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths

Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light

Each summer thronged the grass. A bright

Litter of birdcalls strewed the same

Bone-littered ground. And up the paths

The endless altered people came,



Washing at their identity.

Now, helpless in the hollow of

An unarmorial age, a trough

Of smoke in slow suspended skeins

Above their scrap of history,

Only an attitude remains:



Time has transfigured them into

Untruth. The stone fidelity

They hardly meant has come to be

Their final blazon, and to prove

Our almost-instinct almost true:

What will survive of us is love.






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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The poem continue showing time erodes all truth saying “washing at their identity” “time has transfigured them into untruth” Larkin repetitively use these themes to show us we cannot reply on one sculpture to show us eternal love. He ends with “almost instinct” “almost true” we always wish to believe the adjective of “true” that their love was till their dying days but “almost” softly shows, those who are looking, that it is fake, nothing is “almost true”. Forever we wish the last line to be true “what will survive of us is love” but once again Larkin has contradicted it with the previous line. Love never lasts according to Larkin.

| Posted on 2014-12-15 | by a guest




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