These contemplations of time would have taken place during his middle aged years as Larkin became more aware of the essence of existence and the problem of time. Love Songs in Age illustrates a woman who is widowed who is going through her old song albums, reminiscing and realizing the passage of time. Larkin attempts to display that remembering the past only brings momentary happiness of the memory.
This is shown in the first stanza when going through the covers and she finds one that was coloured by her daughter. As well as showing the passage of time, the covers also present time as a destructive force since the covers have been bleached, marked and coloured. However, the widow tried to rebel against time as she mended one cover when a tidy fit has seized her and perhaps this can also be the motivation for the series of indentations in the poem to persistently try to stop time.
Although, by the end of the poem, it can be said that she finally accepts that time is immutable as the last three lines of the final stanza indicate her mature personality which admits that the youth-created promise of love cannot be fulfilled. Some say that this tender approach towards the widow is unlike Larkin since he does not make an effort to mock or ridicule the woman, it could be said that this distances Larkin from his own poetry and allows the reader to sympathize with her as she acknowledges the passing of time.
Still promising to solve, and satisfy, this particular section of sibilance creates a constant hissing sound, almost as if time is about to creep and attack further developing the idea of time as a brutal force. The rhyme scheme in conjunction with enjambement present an elegant and solemn tone to the poem which accentuates the idea of accepting that time is an uncontrollable force.
Time is also conveyed as an unchallengeable and irrepressible power in another one of Larkins poem Send No Money as Larkin makes a caricature of time. This idea is enhanced through the use of booming Boy as it establishes time as a figure of authority. By developing the caricature of time through a dramatic monologue as well as the exaggerated voice of his child like self, the poet tries to reveal the naivety of youth and our ignorance of the way it changes our lives.
Similar to Love Songs in Age, this poem decimates the false impression of life that we are given when we were young, but is done through the time shift which is evident in between the second and final stanza since the satirical tone and colloquial language disclose a pessimistic view of life, which could be an influence of the realism of Thomas Hardy. Larkin also uses alliteration in the final two lines with the letter t which in turn could allude to the idea of shattering youth created illusions of life or the poets frustration and anger with the way his life has turned out.
Perhaps Larkin utilizes the rhyme scheme of each stanza to mirror our reaction to that life hasnt turned out the way that we had hoped for since the first four lines of the stanza are written in free verse conveying our lack of experience of life and the second half written in an alternate rhyme scheme giving this half more of an ironic manner suggesting our disheartened outlook on life and our acceptance of the immutability of time. Given that Larkin has written this in the form of a dramatic monologue and has not used a persona, this would have been the closest resemblance to his actual point of view when he was alive.
Unlike the two previous poems, Days approaches the theme of time through the present moment as it does not refer to eternity, the past or the future. By implementing the current second as a scale for the measurement of time, Larkin shows the reader the speed of which time is passing as well as the brevity of life. These revelations are further emphasized by the length of the poem. As a result of being written in free verse, the poem is seen as a short contemplation therefore very complex and deep inconclusive.
Larkin adopts the question and answer format, as seen earlier in Send No Money, in the beginning of the poem. This expresses our ignorance of time and the way it works. Majority of the first stanza is written in monosyllables, in consequence of this, it is possible to say that Larkin may be trying to exhibit the dullness and routine of life until death unexpectedly overtakes us which in turn makes the reader contemplate on the amount of time they have left of their lives.
This is also marked by the suddenness of Ah of the second and final stanza. By bringing in the doctor and the priest with their long coats, the poet uses irony, because when we dont know what is happening to us, we go to them to find an answer as these are problems beyond our control seeing that it is further than our knowledge and understanding, yet the answer is also unknown to them. This develops the fact that time is unstoppable.
In conclusion, these poems reveal Larkins contemplations on time through two different styles; descriptive mediation and meditative discussion. Yet, both forms still determine that time is immutable and can ruin without ones acknowledgement. All three poems could be Larkins attempt to lessen the pressure of time as they all try to identify the irrepressible power. This can be seen as his escape from the impact of time and to be free of the responsibilities it brings.