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Dockery And Son Analysis

Author: poem of Philip Larkin Type: poem Views: 3

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'Dockery was junior to you,

Wasn't he?' said the Dean. 'His son's here now.'

Death-suited, visitant, I nod. 'And do

You keep in touch with-' Or remember how

Black-gowned, unbreakfasted, and still half-tight

We used to stand before that desk, to give

'Our version' of 'these incidents last night'?

I try the door of where I used to live:

Locked. The lawn spreads dazzlingly wide.

A known bell chimes. I catch my train, ignored.

Canal and clouds and colleges subside

Slowly from view. But Dockery, good Lord,

Anyone up today must have been born

In '43, when I was twenty-one.

If he was younger, did he get this son

At nineteen, twenty? Was he that withdrawn

High-collared public-schoolboy, sharing rooms

With Cartwright who was killed? Well, it just shows

How much . . . How little . . . Yawning, I suppose

I fell asleep, waking at the fumes

And furnace-glares of Sheffield, where I changed,

And ate an awful pie, and walked along

The platform to its end to see the ranged

Joining and parting lines reflect a strong

Unhindered moon. To have no son, no wife,

No house or land still seemed quite natural.

Only a numbness registered the shock

Of finding out how much had gone of life,

How widely from the others. Dockery, now:

Only nineteen, he must have taken stock

Of what he wanted, and been capable

Of . . . No, that's not the difference: rather, how

Convinced he was he should be added to!

Why did he think adding meant increase?

To me it was dilution. Where do these

Innate assumptions come from? Not from what

We think truest, or most want to do:

Those warp tight-shut, like doors. They're more a style

Our lives bring with them: habit for a while,

Suddenly they harden into all we've got

And how we got it; looked back on, they rear

Like sand-clouds, thick and close, embodying

For Dockery a son, for me nothing,

Nothing with all a son's harsh patronage.

Life is first boredom, then fear.

Whether or not we use it, it goes,

And leaves what something hidden from us chose,

And age, and then the only end of age.


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

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The enjambment in the poem suggests a sense of continuity and flow. A life lived without significant hallmarks(wife,child), which resulted in the persona feeling empty with a hint of regret.

| Posted on 2013-09-09 | by a guest

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Dockery and son is a poem which shows many of larkins features.

| Posted on 2011-05-22 | by a guest

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Larkin critises the structure of life e.g. marriage, birth then death however by avoding this eventuality he creates a life more predictable, mundane and structure than those he has scorned at.

| Posted on 2011-02-28 | by a guest

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One can notice the lexical field of death, with the words "death suited" or "black gowned", it conveys the rupture with the past, as if the persona of the poem was attending a funeral of his past. Indeed, a major theme of the poem is the shutting of doors, momments in life that you can't never turn back to. Larkin gives a visual description of that feeling of permanently lost moments that have turned into memories: "I try the door of where I used to live:/ Locked", the enjambment puts an emphasis on the word locked, (also called a rejet). Larkin realises te unaccessability of the past. Larkin compares his life to Dockery's, linked closely to the poem Self's the man, major theme of Larkin's poetry: missed opportunities.
The reader can sense jealousy in the persona's voice, he too would like a wife of his own and a son. This is shown by the repetition of "no" : "To have no son no wife, No house". And repetition of nothing "For dockery a son for me nothing, Nothing". The persona wihses to have a family but seems incompatible with his belief that love is not possible.
The persona tries to justify the missed opportunities, he criticises Dockery "did he get this son at nineteen, twenty? Was he that withdrawn?""a son's harsh patronage".
The structure of the poem follows a rather regular rhyme pattern ABABCDCD, it is significant that Larkin does not use free verse when other contemorary poets felt it best expressed the cahos of modern life. Larkin seemed to need to control the chaos by using traditional forms.

| Posted on 2010-06-07 | by a guest

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This poem relies heavily on Larkin's ability to weave the past and present into one, almost metaphysical, philsophy on life. The importance of Dockery and his son lies in the reflection on youth one finds in one's offspring-something the poet is perhaps afraid of-"to me it was dilution"-which leads to his sudden sense of reflection and contemplation on "how much of my life is gone".The poet does not find his lack of a son alarming-it simply leads him to the conclusion that life changing decisions emerge from mindless, thoughtless styles-"which something hidden from us chose".
Larkin compares himself now, at the memorial service at his college,"death-suitant", with his young, mischieveous self "black-gowned",and his door "where i used to live locked", later saing "these warp shut like doors". Clearly then his link with his past is crucial in his pessimistic conclusions drawn in the final stanza. His younger self is the only link he now posseses with youth, while Dockery has a son. "life is first boredom then fear"-his recollections of his college days seem to contradict this idea totally,but Larkin is making a point about how what you are left with shapes how you view your past-whatever the former reality actually was.

| Posted on 2009-01-06 | by a guest

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