A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s ‘The Whitsun Weddings’

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A summary of a classic Larkin poem

‘The Whitsun Weddings’ is the title poem in Philip Larkin’s 1964 volume of poems. The poem, describing a journey from Hull to London on the Whitsun weekend and the wedding parties that Larkin sees climbing aboard the train at each station, is one of Larkin’s longest great poems and one of his most popular. You can read ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ here; what follows are some words of analysis of the poem’s language and meaning.

Although ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ describes a train journey from Hull to London during the Whitsun weekend (the seventh Sunday after the Easter weekend is Whit Sunday), the inspiration for the poem was a train journey Philip Larkin undertook on the August Bank Holiday weekend between Hull and Loughborough, the midlands town where his mother lived, in 1956.

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