Faith Healing Larkin Poem Analysis Essays

Philip Larkin’s Poem Church Going Essay

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Philip Larkin’s Poem "Church Going"

When it comes to religion, we can choose either to believe or not to believe. Some have faith in a supreme being, and week after week, devoutly cram into the church of their choice and recite their prayers. In contrast, there are nonbelievers. They see religion as an escape from reality-- a false hope that after living a long and difficult life, an omniscient, unconditionally loving deity will welcome them into an eternal existence.

In Philip Larkin’s poem, "Church Going," the speaker is also a nonbeliever. But whether his lack of faith is in a supreme being is not evident. Rather, his agnosticism is more the result of his displeasure with declining religion. As he walks through the church,…show more content…

But he does this out of "awkward reverence," to compensate for not having a hat. This action also reveals the speaker’s detachment from church. He feels he has to remove something to show veneration, but he is hesitant and uncomfortable when deciding what to do.

The tone of uneasiness is developed further in the second stanza. The speaker comments on the condition of the ceiling and says he does not know whether it is new or restored, but that someone else would. This statement also suggests that the church is foreign to him. It really is "another church"-- one of many he has observed in which he sees the same, uninteresting things. We can infer that this particular church is even more dull to the speaker than the other ones he has visited because he admits it was not worth looking at to begin with.

In the third stanza, the attitude of the speaker becomes more pessimistic, as he thinks about the fate of the church. He does not discuss what might happen if churches "fall out of use" but when. He recognizes that attendance at mass is quickly waning, and the time when churches are completely devoid of parishioners is not so far into the future.

The speaker’s cynical musings continue into the fourth and fifth stanzas. He delves deeper into the dreary possibilities of a post-religious world, setting an ominous, bleak tone for the future. When everyone is a nonbeliever, just like him, the church will become merely a "shape

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Faith Healing Analysis

Author:poem of Philip LarkinType:poemViews: 10

Slowly the women file to where he stands
Upright in rimless glasses, silver hair,
Dark suit, white collar. Stewards tirelessly
Persuade them onwards to his voice and hands,
Within whose warm spring rain of loving care
Each dwells some twenty seconds. Now, dear child,
What's wrong, the deep American voice demands,
And, scarcely pausing, goes into a prayer
Directing God about this eye, that knee.
Their heads are clasped abruptly; then, exiled

Like losing thoughts, they go in silence; some
Sheepishly stray, not back into their lives
Just yet; but some stay stiff, twitching and loud
With deep hoarse tears, as if a kind of dumb
And idiot child within them still survives
To re-awake at kindness, thinking a voice
At last calls them alone, that hands have come
To lift and lighten; and such joy arrives
Their thick tongues blort, their eyes squeeze grief, a crowd
Of huge unheard answers jam and rejoice -

What's wrong! Moustached in flowered frocks they shake:
By now, all's wrong. In everyone there sleeps
A sense of life lived according to love.
To some it means the difference they could make
By loving others, but across most it sweeps
As all they might have done had they been loved.
That nothing cures. An immense slackening ache,
As when, thawing, the rigid landscape weeps,
Spreads slowly through them - that, and the voice above
Saying Dear child, and all time has disproved.


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