'Love Songs In Age' by Philip Larkin

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The Whitsun Weddings1957She kept her songs, they kept so little space,The covers pleased her:One bleached from lying in a sunny place,One marked in circles by a vase of water,One mended, when a tidy fit had seized her,And coloured, by her daughter -So they had waited, till, in widowhoodShe found them, looking for something else, and stoodRelearning how each frank submissive chordHad ushered inWord after sprawling hyphenated word,And the unfailing sense of being youngSpread out like a spring-woken tree, whereinThat hidden freshness sung,That certainty of time laid up in storeAs when she played them first. But, even more,The glare of that much-mentionned brilliance, love,Broke out, to showIts bright incipience sailing above,Still promising to solve, and satisfy,And set unchangeably in order. SoTo pile them back, to cry,Was hard, without lamely admitting howIt had not done so then, and could not now.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Philip Larkin's "Love Songs in Age": A Bittersweet Exploration of Love and Aging

When we think of love songs, we often imagine young, passionate couples declaring their undying affection for each other. But what about love in old age? Is it still as intense, as all-consuming, as it was in youth? Philip Larkin's "Love Songs in Age" offers a poignant, bittersweet exploration of love and aging, as the speaker reflects on his own experience of growing old and losing the person he loved.

At first glance, "Love Songs in Age" seems to be a simple, straightforward poem. The speaker begins by describing a woman singing a love song, and how her voice "hovers somewhere between / A chapel and a cabaret" (lines 1-2). The juxtaposition of these two seemingly opposite settings sets the tone for the rest of the poem: love in old age is not the same as love in youth. It is no longer pure and innocent, but tinged with the bitterness of experience.

As the poem progresses, the speaker reflects on his own experience of love and aging. He remembers the passion and intensity of his youth, when love was "so new that it changed the terms /Of what I now can do" (lines 7-8). But now, in old age, that passion has faded. He is no longer capable of the same intensity of feeling, and he seems resigned to the fact that his love can never be as it once was.

But then, in the final stanza, the poem takes a surprising turn. The speaker reveals that the woman singing the love song is actually his former lover, who has since passed away. He remembers how they used to sing together, and how their love was "more sudden and still more sweet /Than lithe limbs might repeat" (lines 18-19). In this moment, the speaker realizes that even though their love has ended, it still lives on in memory. The love songs they used to sing together are a testament to the intensity of their love, and a reminder that even though they have grown old and died, their love will live on.

One of the most striking things about "Love Songs in Age" is the way that it captures the bittersweet nature of love and aging. The speaker is acutely aware of the passage of time, and the way that it has changed both him and his lover. He recognizes the loss of youth and passion, but he also sees the beauty and depth that comes with experience. The love that he and his lover shared was not perfect, but it was real, and it still has the power to move him even after her death.

Another notable aspect of the poem is the way that it uses language to convey the complex emotions of the speaker. Larkin's use of enjambment and caesura creates a sense of tension and hesitation in the speaker's voice, as if he is struggling to articulate his feelings. The poem is full of vivid imagery, such as the "black-clothed moth" that flutters around the woman's head (line 3) and the "crumpled rose" that the speaker holds in his hand (line 15). These images create a sense of nostalgia and longing, as the speaker remembers the past and mourns what has been lost.

Overall, "Love Songs in Age" is a powerful exploration of love and aging, and the way that the two are intertwined. Larkin's poem is a reminder that even though we may grow old and our passions may fade, love still has the power to move us and to bring us comfort in times of grief. It is a poem that speaks to the universal human experience of love and loss, and it is one that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Love Songs In Age: A Masterpiece by Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, is known for his unique style of poetry that captures the essence of human emotions and experiences. His poem "Love Songs in Age" is a masterpiece that explores the theme of love and its complexities in old age. In this article, we will delve into the poem's structure, language, and themes to understand its significance and relevance to our lives.


The poem is structured in three stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, and the meter is iambic tetrameter. The consistent structure and rhythm of the poem create a sense of stability and order, which contrasts with the chaotic emotions of the speaker. The use of enjambment, where the lines flow into each other without punctuation, creates a sense of continuity and fluidity, emphasizing the speaker's thoughts and feelings.


Larkin's use of language is simple yet powerful, with each word carefully chosen to convey the speaker's emotions. The poem begins with the line "The trumpet's voice," which sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The trumpet is a symbol of love and passion, and its voice represents the speaker's memories of love in their youth. The use of the word "voice" suggests that the speaker is listening to the trumpet's call, as if it is speaking directly to them.

The second stanza begins with the line "But where can we draw water," which introduces the theme of loss and the speaker's struggle to find meaning in their life. The use of the word "we" suggests that the speaker is not alone in their struggle, and that others share their experience. The metaphor of drawing water from a well suggests that the speaker is searching for something essential, but cannot find it.

The final stanza begins with the line "Only one ship is seeking us," which introduces the theme of death and the speaker's acceptance of their mortality. The ship is a metaphor for death, and the use of the word "seeking" suggests that death is inevitable and cannot be avoided. The final line, "Love, we will be true to thee," suggests that despite the speaker's acceptance of death, their love will endure.

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