Death of death, “giving back none of the

Death is a black cloud that is inescapable and follows every person. Death is a major theme explored in Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Ambulances’, in this case even the title suggests a relation to death. Larkin sets the scene by saying “closed like confessionals” which is an almost dooming phrase, it gives an instant feeling of dread in a reader’s mind as most people dread the exposure of confession.

This line is like an attack on ambulances as Larkin is implying that they are a front, ever hiding the inevitable. The comment upon the path that they take, “they thread loud noons of cities” could be used to show that death is all around us threading and seeping its way into our lives, even among the liveliest and busiest atmospheres death is always looming. Larkin implies that ambulances are a symbol of death, “giving back none of the glances they absorb. Light glossy grey, arms on a plaque” through his use of intense imagery Larkin describes how he sees ambulances as taking life, carrying it away and never returning it. The last lines of stanza one are written in a way that intends to open the eyes of the readers, “all streets in time are visited” by saying this Larkin is saying in the end weather you fear death or not it is unavoidable. In life everyone takes a different road but all roads lead to one destination, death.

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Larkin takes everyday events and relates them to death showing how prevalent it is in society, “children strewn” is used to evoke a strong image in the reader’s mind of bodies strewn across streets after they have died, this represents the randomness of death and reinforces Larkin’s main idea that even the healthiest and most youthful of people will not live forever. The main idea of death that is conveyed by Philip Larkin is this sense that we all try to avoid death, “red stretcher-blankets momently as it is carried in and stowed” in this line Larkin emphasises “it” and focuses on the stretcher, rather than the corpse itself. This is where Larkin attempts to really make the reader understand how we are always skirting around the edges of death and we never really face it head on. Larkin characterizes death as a “solving emptiness” life is seemingly meaningless, whilst death “lies just under all we do”. We strive to achieve many things in life but what is the point if we are all going to wind up in a hole in the ground in the end? “And for a second get it whole, so permanent and blank and true” this truth as told by Philip Larkin is inevitable, the repetition of “and” is used to drag out the meaning.

The utter truth is that death is for forever, we like the ambulance will never return.


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