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Poetry of Departures. By Philip Larkin. Themes of the Poem. Escape Boredom Restlessness . Escape. Larkin firstly introduces the theme through dialogue. However, he shows it to be dialogue through italics, not speech marks – for example: “ He chucked up everything

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poetry of departures

Poetry of Departures

By Philip Larkin

themes of the poem
Themes of the Poem
  • Escape
  • Boredom
  • Restlessness

Larkin firstly introduces the theme through dialogue. However, he shows it to be dialogue through italics, not speech marks – for example:

“He chucked up everything

And just cleared off”

This is at the beginning of the poem, when Larkin appears to approve of the idea of escapism:

“Certain you approve

This audacious, purifying,

Elemental move.”


However, by the end of the poem he changes this view to sarcasm, which indicates that, after weighing up the pros and cons of leaving, he is doubtful and has his suspicions about escaping every day life.

“Yes, swagger the nut-strewn roads, Crouch in the fo’c’sle Stubbly with goodness, if It weren’t so artificial”

The word ‘swagger’ has connotations of something unrespectable and ignorant – indicating Larkin’s thoughts of those who run away and escape from the continuous routine which he is currently suffering from. This indication leads to the next theme in the poem: boredom.


“And my life, in perfect order”

This is said at the end of the second verse, and demonstrates Larkin’s feelings that his life has been unexciting and uneventful. His hatred is illustrated through describing his currently dull life as something ‘in perfect order’. This is also shown in the phrase,

“Sober and industrious.”

Once again, the theme of boredom is illuminated, showing not only his hatred in work, but his disgust in his life – he hates that his life is boring and wishes to be free.


Larkin firstly conveys his feeling of restlessness in the poem in the second verse, with the notion of departure, which is then illuminated throughout the rest of the poem.

“We all hate home

And having to be there”

Larkin’s disdain towards his home life demonstrates his need to escape.

techniques of the poem
Techniques of the Poem
  • Oxymoron
  • Enjambment

In the final line of the poem, Larkin leaves the reader with an oxymoron:

“Reprehensibly perfect.”

The denotation of the word ‘reprehensive’ is a feeling of guilt. This indicates that Larkin feels guilty about these perfect surroundings, and is desperate to leave. Therefore, ‘Reprehensively perfect’ is an oxymoron: how can something be perfect, when it triggers his guilt?


In the poem, Larkin uses the technique of enjambment when he continues a ‘sentence’ in the last lines of the second verse, on to the next.

“And my life, in perfect order:

So to hear it said

He walked out on the whole crowd

Leaves me flushed and stirred”

This successfully creates a smooth and flowing link; leading the reader on to the next verse.