Going, Going, by Philip Larkin

The Poetry Room

Larkin wrote this poem in 1972. How much more evocative is it today?

The title ‘Going, Going’ is the key to the whole poem. In Larkin’s view, what is ‘going’ is the landscape of England as a green and pleasant land. It is being replaced by shoddy development, summed up by the auctioneer’s excited cry of ‘going, going’ as another piece of the old heritage falls under the hammer. Going, going, but not yet quite gone. Larkin once thought it would ‘last his time’. Now he doubts that.

The poem has a disarmingly conversational tone, which belies the bleakness of what Larkin is saying. This tone is partly contrived by the rhyming pattern of each six line stanza: A B C A B C, which makes for a more open quality than couplets, for example, would have done. Right from the start he has a disillusioned air about the future…

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