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Published: 02-12-2019

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A Comparison of Church Going by Philip Larkin and Christmas by John Betjeman

Although both contemporary poets Philip Larkin and John Betjeman differ in their religious beliefs, this is reflected in the two poems, Church Going and Christmas. In their respective operates both poets portray their own religious beliefs to some extent through the chosen topic matters of their operates. Larkin’s poem actually describes the speaker getting into a church with no particular reason for performing so, and however it is not the initial time that he has done so suggesting that he feels an underlying obligation towards them. At the same time as explaining this situation in his poem, Larkin also uses this back drop as an chance to convey a deeper meaning in the words of his poem. Betjeman’s poem Christmas describes in a literal sense the poet’s interpretation of what Christmas means to him and what occurs at Christmas. But, similarly to Larkin Betjeman makes use of his poem to convey a message to the reader by way of the deeper meaning of his poem. Both poems include biblical imagery and encompass the religious beliefs of their authors. The poems are really significantly alike in the reality that doubt is expressed by each authors as to whether the religion, or in Larkin’s case the lack of religion, by which they have selected to reside out their lives is correct or not.

Within the very first two lines of Larkin’s poem we are shown that the speaker is nervous and uncomfortable with the thought of entering a church, this is shown exactly where he writes, “Once I am sure there’s absolutely nothing going on/ I step inside”. Larkins lexical decision of the word “thud” soon soon after this confession is a further clue to the lack of religious fervor that the individual has. He does not close the door reverently as a way of preserving the peace that exists with the walls of the church but let’s “the door thud shut” betraying his displacement. The extra onomatopoeia of the word “thud” locations an improved emphasis on the speaker’s lack of belonging as effectively as creating a auditory sense of the poem for the reader, the leaden lifeless sound produced by the word also portrays the lack of emotion felt by the speaker as he enters the church. The speaker’s casual informal tone when he refers to the church as just “Another Church” also conveys a sense of disrespect for his surroundings as properly as conveying to the reader that it is not the 1st time that he has felt compelled to enter a church. The speaker shows that he believes all churches to lack individuality via his use of a list of what they all contain inside, “matting, seats, and stone,/And small books sprawlings of flowers, reduce for Sunday, brownish now some brass and stuff”. His reference to the flowers as sprawlings rather than objects which have been placed to adorn their surroundings out of a devotion and respect for the goal of the building again betrays how the speaker is taking what he sees at face value with no a respect for the institution of the Church as a complete. This sense of irreverence is again portrayed by means of his description of the contents of the church as “stuff” as properly as his reference to the flowers as “brownish” which seems to propose a sense of decay. This reference could be symbolic of Larkin’s recognition or opinion that religion is dying out, an opinion that is backed up by his line later in the poem, “When churches fall out of use” which shows that he beliefs that religion will disappear. On the other hand Larkin admits that religion does have a spot in society via his decision of the phrase, “God knows how long” this shows that although he does not think in God the nature of religion is so engrained within society, it has such a degree of longevity, that he can not assist but use a reference to it in his every day speech.

In Contrast Betjeman’s poem Christmas presents a much far more positive view of religion and churches. His description of stain glass windows as casting a “sheen” more than the outside planet presents the image of the church as providing off light or as becoming a light inside the darkness. This is a biblical visual image which encourages and suggests a constructive view of religion as light is usually employed symbolically to imply goodness. Betjeman makes a reference to objects from nature to remind the reader of God’s creation and also to bring a festive context into his poem as the objects he lists such as “holly” and “yew” are traditionally connected with Christmas. They also act as a visual imagery for the reader. Betjeman follows this reference with a list of objects associated with a church, “The altar, font and arch and pew” this acts as a reminder of the religious element of Christmas, revealing the significance of religion as portion of poet’s knowledge of Christmas. He then goes on to describe the commercial aspect of Christmas. His use of alliteration on the phrase “Provincial public houses” places an emphasis on the international industrial aspect of Christmas, pubs everywhere “blaze”. His description of the London shops additional conveys a sense of commercialism and the busy nature of the city at Christmas time with its “hurrying clerks”. A greater emphasis is placed on the capitalist nature of Christmas through mention of the figurehead of capitalism the “Dorchester Hotel” exactly where the “shining ones” are allowed to “dwell” this image contrasts with the image of a child in an “ox’s stall” presented later in the poem suggesting the view that capitalism and commercialism have been allowed to overshadow what the poet sees as the correct which means of Christmas, the birth of Jesus.

Both poets express a feeling of doubt within their operates. This is shown in Christmas where Betjeman makes use of the rhetorical query, “And is it accurate?” This use of rhetorical question coupled with the repetition of the question both in the exact same stanza and the stanza that follows acts as an emphasis on the reality that no a single can be totally positive no matter whether or not believing in the story of the nativity and the faith method that accompanies it is the right and true point to do. Similarly doubt is expressed by Larkin in his poem Church Going nevertheless his doubt is of a various kind he wonders, “What remains when disbelief has gone?” Larkin’s lexical option here of the word “disbelief” is utilized to refer to these individuals who pick to pass off religion as stupid and a waste of time, as a result is this rhetorical question posed by the speaker Larkin makes a direct confession that he does think in the power of religion, this thought is reiterated earlier in the poem exactly where he writes, “Power of some sort or other will go onn” revealing that in the speaker’s eye’s religion presently occupies a position of energy inside society. The fact that Larkin believes in the power of religion combined with his unexplainable attraction to enter a Church creates a sense of doubt inside the poem as to whether or not believing in anything is a good or a poor issue.

Each poems also have a typical kind and metre. In his poem Church Going Larkin makes use of really a lot of iambic pentameter all through the poem despite still keep an informal conversational tone. Larkin also has a standard rhyme structure of ABABCADCD throughout his poem. Larkin’s use of a regular type and metre inside his poem reflects how he is treating his subject matter of religion with the degree of seriousness that it demands. Nonetheless there are points inside the poem exactly where the typical rhyme and rhythm utilized by Larkin breaks down, this reluctance to commit completely to a standard rhyme and rhythm reflects the identical hesitancy the speaker feels towards religion itself mirroring the message of the poem. In the exact same way the content of the poem is mirrored by the rhyme and rhythm as the casual tone of the speaker is contained inside the regular structure just as the speaker is taking a casual stroll around the order and structured layout of the inside of the church. Betjeman also uses a normal form and metre in his poem Christmas. His poem largely follows the rhyming structure of ABABCC but in the exact same way as Larkin’s poem this rhyme does not match the poem in its entirety. Betjeman’s unwillingness to commit completely to this metre implies a sense of the doubt that he expresses inside his poem, “is it correct?” regardless of his faith there is an element of doubt in his mind as to regardless of whether or not what he believes in is true. But his normal structure does reflect his steadfast faith in his religion it is standard throughout the poem.

In conclusion each poems reflect a deeper religious meaning layered underneath the various events that they document. The differing religious views of their respective authors is shown via the messages of their poems, Betjeman worries that the accurate meaning of Christmas as being the birth of Christ is being lost amongst the commercialism that now surrounds the time of year, it is buried beneath all of the “tissued fripperies”. Although on the other hand Larkin concludes at the end of his poem that he finds churches impressive as they supply a serious location for serious questions, it is for this explanation that he thinks men and women continue to go to Churches, as humanity will in no way quit asking critical questions, he has a respect for religion despite his personal atheist beliefs.
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