A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s ‘MCMXIV’

Posted: November 8, 2016 by vequinox in Literature

Interesting Literature

A summary of one of Larkin’s greatest poems

‘MCMXIV’ is one of Philip Larkin’s best-loved poems. Completed in May 1960, the poem was published in Larkin’s 1964 volume The Whitsun Weddings. You can read ‘MCMXIV’ here; what follows is our analysis of the poem.

‘MCMXIV’ is the year 1914 in Roman numerals. As Christopher Ricks has observed, Larkin’s decision to title his poem ‘MCMXIV’ rather than ‘1914’ or ‘Nineteen Fourteen’ means we cannot be sure how to pronounce the poem’s title aloud: calling it ‘1914’ is accurate, of course, but fails to transmit the Latin stylising of the date. Conversely, reciting the individual letters (or numerals) that make up the title makes little sense.

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