A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s ‘Church Going’

Being one of those who loves to sneak into old churches whenever I pass, Larkin has managed to capture my very thoughts in these crafted lines. Magnificent!

Interesting Literature

A reading of a classic Larkin poem

‘Church Going’ is one of Philip Larkin’s best-loved poems. It appeared in his second full collection of poetry, The Less Deceived (1955). In this post, we’d like to offer some notes towards an analysis of ‘Church Going’, which can be read here.

The title, ‘Church Going’, is not hyphenated, to allow for a secondary meaning to be glimpsed – or, in fact, a tertiary meaning, since ‘Church Going’ is itself already carrying a double meaning. It immediately suggests going to church as an act of worship, but Larkin is not a ‘church-goer’ in that sense: he visits the churches (something, he tells us, he ‘often’ does) for other reasons, and is not himself a believer or worshipper. But ‘Church Going’ also glimmers with another meaning: the idea that the church, as institution, is ‘going’ or fading from view. (Larkin’s titles often centre…

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