Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Fire Kids Edition Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
65
4.2 out of 5 stars
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£6.49+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 19 February 2004
I am currently studying this for a-level and this book has been a great help. It contains many features and a break down of how to study a poem and analysises each poem, with three extended commentaries on 'toads revisted', 'ambulances' and 'here'. This study guide also gives relevant and important background information on Larkin. I found this book to be really helpful in particular its analysis of each poem and has really helped with my course. I would definetly recommend this book to others!
11 Comment| 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 November 2007
Looking at the previous reviews I find it quite adverse that someone would condemn a book of poetry because it isn't 'perky' enough. I thought poetry was about so much more than just lifting the spirits.

I myself am 17, studying The Whitsun Weddings for my AS level. Incontestably, it is of a depressive nature, but I do not view this as a possible criticism of the book. This is the very thing that makes it a worthwhile read. Larkin's pessimistic/realist views on matters such as monogamy and marriage, consumerism and generally pre-idealised life are yes, very blunt and negative, but something we have all atleast pondered on. I think his work is very enjoyable. With his arrogance constantly juxaposed with his feelings of inadequacy, I felt like I could despise him, and at the same time, completely empathise with him. Intricate work!

I recommend it!
11 Comment| 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Larkin’s poetry is very commonly perceived as being highly negative and melancholic, with themes such as death and disappointment featuring frequently throughout. However when reading the Whitsun weddings you can’t help but feel that Larkin is simply creating a voice for our own personal worries and concerns.
Due to his sharp, perceptive observations on life and its many obstacles, we see that Larkin is not a miserable character, and the only reason he is perceived as being this way is because his poems within the Whitsun weddings are of death, disappointment and failing love and are stereotypically things we don’t want to hear but sadly are very true to life’s journey.
The collection works well as it creates a variety of mood and tone, never having two poems of the same theme next to each other. Larkin adopts the persona of the everyday man when narrating the poems and we see characters such as ‘Arnold’ in ‘Self’s the Man’ that are thoroughly unfulfilled in their lives. When reading the poems you can see how thought provoking they really are, as they sometimes read as warnings, such as ‘Mr Bleaney’ the ‘tale’ of a man who ‘warrants no better’ than a small, empty room where family do not visit. The protagonists created by Larkin are
Shocking, as the honesty and stark nature in which they are described makes you realise that, “that could be me if I choose to watch life rather than participate in it”.
A great collection of poetry written by a man commonly misunderstood because of his honest, tender and shocking observations on life, love and death. Larkin has his hands gripped firmly on reality and is massively aware and unafraid to express his worries, fears and concerns to others whether or not they are things one wants to hear.
0Comment| 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
HALL OF FAMEon 1 July 2005
My introduction to Philip Larkin and his collection of verse,' The Whitsun Weddings' I owe to my friend David Evennett, one-time Member of Parliament for Erith and Crayford. Back when I was researcher for a Member of Parliament, I had an avocation as a poet. David discovered this, and recommended Larkin as a poetic voice worthy of attention. (His researcher acted surprised, blurting out loud much to our amusement, 'And here I always took you for a Philistine!') I have been grateful ever since, as I frequently return to this slim volume of verse for inspiration and reflection.
This volume of poetry includes 32 poems. A small book first published in 1964, it has proven so popular (something rare in poetry circles) that it has been reprinted four times during the 1970s, four times during the 1980s, and continues to be reprinted periodically up to the present day.
John Betjeman, one-time poet laureate of England, once commented of Larkin that 'this tenderly observant poet writes clearly, rhythmically, and thoughtfully about what all of us can understand.' This is the key to Larkin's verse -- accessibility. There are no obvious poetical devices that overpower the meaning or the language; there are no forced schemes, however brilliantly executed, that impose themselves on the reader. The gentle rhythms carry the reader like a slow-moving train on a well-cushioned track.
The poem `Mr. Bleaney' is the one David first drew attention to when I brought in the small book a few days after his recommendation.
But if he stood and watched the frigid wind
Tousling the clouds, lay on the fusty bed
Telling himself that this was home, and grinned,
And shivered, without shaking off the dread
That how we live measures our own nature,
And at his age having no more to show
Than one hired box should make him pretty sure
He warranted no better, I don't know.
These words resonate with me at different times in my life, as they did with David. There is a desire to make someone of oneself, to have something to show for one's life. In the development of Mr. Bleaney's life, and his successor in the rented room, one can take stock and reappraise one's own life. What is the value, and how is it calculated?
Larkin's poetry frequently turns to the matter of religion and spirituality, without getting overly fussy or remote. In the poem Water, Larkin gives a very brief description of a spirit-freeing and pluralistic yet communal experience.
Larkin addresses the issues of age and youth, of love and loneliness, of despair and hope, all within the space of these 32 wonderful poems. The poem `Wild Oats' incorporates all of these themes in one compact, bittersweet tale of life. Who could fail to wonder at the matter-of-fact and poignant description of the man who couldn't commit to one woman, having met only briefly her more beautiful friend, and seven years later is still unable to forget? The poem `A Study of Reading Habits' likewise, dealing with dreams conjured up through reading during youth gone the way of reality in middle age, ending with a too-familiar sour-grapes feeling, `Books are a load of crap'.
Of course, I mustn't neglect the title piece, `The Whitsun Weddings'. Perfectly capturing mood and manner of weddings, the routine and the cycle of life, Larkin in fact uses the image of travelling by rail as a subtle motif for the journey through life, the Whitsun Weddings being a stop through which many (a dozen couples in this poem) proceed on their way to lives that will be lived out in `London spread out like the sun / Its postal districts packed like squares of wheat.'
Larkin's final word in this collection is a very worthy word -- one that will preach, in the words of a cleric friend of mine -- and one that brings to very sweet encapsulation his image of the Arundel Tomb, carefully and tenderly drawn for us in words, evoking images of when it was first created to how it is perceived today in its state of weathered testimony of the couple buried together:
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.
May these poems survive.
0Comment| 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 October 2009
This book is very useful for students studying 'the whitsun weddings' for a-level like myself. It gives you lots of different ideas and interpretations that you or your teachers may not have have thought about. It also helps your understanding of some of the more difficult poems. However, it is held back by the fact that it does not cover all of the poems in the collection, although it doesn't miss out any of the 'major' poems. The information on themes and other background information is very helpful as well.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 2 November 2010
Although this publication doesn't contain all the Larkin poems in the AQA A-level Literature anthology, it is still a useful study-aid and revision tool for students and teachers of A-level poetry. As with all modern York Notes it is clearly and attractively designed with a wealth of relevant information separated into appropriate sections. A must-buy for students of Larkin but be aware it might not have all the poems you need.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
HALL OF FAMEon 23 November 2005
My introduction to Philip Larkin and his collection of verse, 'The Whitsun Weddings' I owe to my friend David Evennett, at that time Member of Parliament for Erith and Crayford (now MP for another area). Back when I was researcher for a Member of Parliament, I had an avocation as a poet. David discovered this, and recommended Larkin as a poetic voice worthy of attention. (His researcher acted surprised, blurting out loud much to our amusement, 'And here I always took you for a Philistine!') I have been grateful ever since, as I frequently return to this slim volume of verse for inspiration and reflection.
This volume of poetry includes 32 poems of the original 'Whitsun Weddings' collection, plus some others. 'Whitsun Weddings' was a small book first published in 1964, which has proven so popular (something rare in poetry circles) that it has been reprinted four times during the 1970s, four times during the 1980s, and continues to be reprinted periodically up to the present day.
John Betjeman, one-time poet laureate of England, once commented of Larkin that 'this tenderly observant poet writes clearly, rhythmically, and thoughtfully about what all of us can understand.' This is the key to Larkin's verse -- accessibility. There are no obvious poetical devices that overpower the meaning or the language; there are no forced schemes, however brilliantly executed, that impose themselves on the reader. The gentle rhythms carry the reader like a slow-moving train on a well-cushioned track.
The poem 'Mr. Bleaney' is the one David first drew attention to when I brought in the small book a few days after his recommendation.
But if he stood and watched the frigid wind
Tousling the clouds, lay on the fusty bed
Telling himself that this was home, and grinned,
And shivered, without shaking off the dread
That how we live measures our own nature,
And at his age having no more to show
Than one hired box should make him pretty sure
He warranted no better, I don't know.
These words resonate with me at different times in my life, as they did with David. There is a desire to make someone of oneself, to have something to show for one's life. In the development of Mr. Bleaney's life, and his successor in the rented room, one can take stock and reappraise one's own life. What is the value, and how is it calculated?
Larkin's poetry frequently turns to the matter of religion and spirituality, without getting overly fussy or remote. In the poem Water, Larkin gives a very brief description of a spirit-freeing and pluralistic yet communal experience.
Larkin addresses the issues of age and youth, of love and loneliness, of despair and hope, all within the space of these 32 wonderful poems. The poem `Wild Oats' incorporates all of these themes in one compact, bittersweet tale of life. Who could fail to wonder at the matter-of-fact and poignant description of the man who couldn't commit to one woman, having met only briefly her more beautiful friend, and seven years later is still unable to forget? The poem 'A Study of Reading Habits' likewise, dealing with dreams conjured up through reading during youth gone the way of reality in middle age, ending with a too-familiar sour-grapes feeling, 'Books are a load of crap'.
Of course, I mustn't neglect the title piece, 'The Whitsun Weddings'. Perfectly capturing mood and manner of weddings, the routine and the cycle of life, Larkin in fact uses the image of travelling by rail as a subtle motif for the journey through life, the Whitsun Weddings being a stop through which many (a dozen couples in this poem) proceed on their way to lives that will be lived out in 'London spread out like the sun / Its postal districts packed like squares of wheat.'
Larkin's final word in this collection is a very worthy word -- one that will preach, in the words of a cleric friend of mine -- and one that brings to very sweet encapsulation his image of the Arundel Tomb, carefully and tenderly drawn for us in words, evoking images of when it was first created to how it is perceived today in its state of weathered testimony of the couple buried together:
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.
May these poems survive.
0Comment| 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Larkin's poetry is very commonly perceived as being highly negative and melancholic, with themes such as death and disappointment featuring frequently throughout. However when reading the Whitsun weddings you can't help but feel that Larkin is simply creating a voice for our own personal worries and concerns.
Due to his sharp, perceptive observations on life and its many obstacles, we see that Larkin is not a miserable character, and the only reason he is perceived as being this way is because his poems within the Whitsun weddings are of death, disappointment and failing love and are stereotypically things we don't want to hear but sadly are very true to life's journey.
The collection works well as it creates a variety of mood and tone, never having two poems of the same theme next to each other. Larkin adopts the persona of the everyday man when narrating the poems and we see characters such as 'Arnold' in 'Self's the Man' that are thoroughly unfulfilled in their lives. When reading the poems you can see how thought provoking they really are, as they sometimes read as warnings, such as 'Mr Bleaney' the 'tale' of a man who 'warrants no better' than a small, empty room where family do not visit. The protagonists created by Larkin are shocking, as the honesty and stark nature in which they are described makes you realise that, "that could be me if I choose to watch life rather than participate in it".
A great collection of poetry written by a man commonly misunderstood because of his honest, tender and shocking observations on life, love and death. Larkin has his hands gripped firmly on reality and is massively aware and unafraid to express his worries, fears and concerns to others whether or not they are things one wants to hear.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 August 2016
I purchased this poetry book under the impression that it was in 'good condition' as stated in the description. The description did not state that the book had been written in and most poems were completely covered in scribbles annotations! I need this poetry book for my A-level literature exam meaning that the book has to be a clean copy with no writing in. Therefore I will not be able to use the book and will have to purchase another one!
review image
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 November 2010
Have you ever read your old notes or annnotations?

I was looking at this poem again on Saturday after a long gap I think of about 20 years! The notes were in biro and 'built to last' and I laughed at the irony of reimagining the 'who' who wrote these things, whilst reading a poem about stepping inside some elses's head and space.

I love the gestural opening. The potential for pathos ensnared in the use of the past tense. Perhaps I agree with my old self that there is something brisk, bosomy and capable about the voice of the landlady. Even perhaps a hint of the sexually voracious about her margins?

The hinted sense of repetition and quiet despair culminate in the attention paid to the ill fitting curtains and the bleak horizons glimpsed through the no doubt streaked window. Mr Bleaney's room is a version of Mr Bleaney. A mirror to the banality Larkin feels of this 'unsuccessful' figure. The poem is an object, an artefact offering little solace for the poet or his imagined lodger subject. Like Miss Havisam's infamous room of decay and stais, Mr Bleaney's room is a metaphorical representation of his life, his psychical source. Like Miss Havisham too, it is also a 'box' in which he is already metaphorically dead and which will outlive him as he succumbs to mortality with its rituals of burial and (to Larkin as an atheist ) personal oblivion and deletion. Of course the poet seems to be suggesting that he too is Mr Bleaney or 'a Mr Bleaney' with his singleton existence, economic poverty and lack fo choice. But then, just as we feel we have arrived with our cynical guide Larkin at a clear but devastating destination, Larkin reveals that he has listened to himself and his words and has a change of heart. Or at least a change of focus. A shift?

' I don't know' He concludes ambiguously. And perhaps he doesn't despite the weight of his irony and accumulative argument. He has almost argued himself into faith. Faith through doubt. The cynical 'faithlessness' of his poet event yields to a glimmer of light. Light through doubt like Hardy's Oxen; 'hoping it might be so' and Larkin at the end of his final poem in the Whitsun Wedding Collection:'What will survive of us is love.'

Leave it there. Footsteps going forward and another's shoes...
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse