Negotiating Death in Philip Larkin’s “Ambulances” and “Aubade”


  • Aalia Khan Research Scholar University Dept. of English T.M. Bhagalpur University Bhagalpur, Bihar, India,Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University image/svg+xml


Death, Despair, Hardyesque, Movement Poets, Sickness, War Poetry


“Ambulances” and “Aubade” are two widely read poems of Philip Larkin (1922-1985) which any serious reader of modern poems would be reminded of in these difficult times. The poems help in negotiating and coming to terms with the inevitable fact of life that is death. The imagery of a suffering patient and the way the society responds to such a spectacle is vividly documented. The ebb and flow of emotional flux emanating from the idea of death is uniquely articulated. As a Movement Poet his style in these two poems is traditional but his subject matter is derived from the observations of contemporary life. Despair is one word which haunts the mind on reading the poems. The bleak view of human existence is sharply reflected in the imagery created in the poems. The detachment of which Larkin is capable of as a poet helps in infusing artistic triumph. This artistic detachment shadows the despair forming the tone and tenor of the metaphors used. Use of alliteration in short verses leaves a jarring effect on readers. The color coding like white, red, grey, glossy, dark, is a technique enriching imagery of the poems. Personification of death and un-resting and having neared by a day creates the eerie mood required for the theme of the poems. The rich metaphors used for death bed and death itself are perhaps not very common in modern poetry in English. This paper shall lay threadbare the success of Larkin as a poet in creating a work of artistic excellence out of the most odious idea like death.


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How to Cite

Aalia Khan. (2018). Negotiating Death in Philip Larkin’s “Ambulances” and “Aubade”. The Creative Launcher, 3(2), 20–25. Retrieved from