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Philip Larkin - Reference Back

Uploaded by Appleman on Jun 09, 2007

Reference Back

In Reference Back, Philip Larkin is referring back to the days where he would just sit at home listening to music. He wasn’t listening to the music alone.

“That was a pretty one” quotes the narrator. The other person present would appear to like the speaker’s choice of music. It would also appear that the music being played is fairly loud, “you call from the unsatisfactory hall to the unsatisfactory room”. This quotation also gives us the speaker’s opinion of the house he is in. The hall and the room are not good enough to satisfy the speaker. He may be listening to music quite loudly because he is unhappy in the place where he is.

The speaker doesn’t appear to have much to do. “Playing record after record” suggests that he has listened through several records already. He follows this with a single word stationed between 2 commas – “idly”. The use of commas either side of this word allows idly to be emphasised. He would appear to be making a point that he is doing nothing. This could be because he has nothing to do or because he doesn’t want to do anything. Either way, he is creating an image of himself sat at home wasting his time. This would appear to be the image he wants to create, as the 5th line reads “Wasting my time at home”.

The first stanza doesn’t provide us with any idea what this music is, but the first clause of the second stanza does – “Oliver’s Riverside Blues”. Joe “King” Oliver was a jazz musician, and Riverside Blues was one of his records. Oliver started his career in New Orleans, before moving to Chicago in 1922.

This music is special to the speaker, hence why he says “I shall always remember” as if it's an old friend he doesn't want to forget. He refers to the music as a “flock of notes”. Flock is a word more commonly used when talking about a sheep, giving the music a more naturalistic feel. The use of the word “antique” in describing the jazz musicians indicates to the reader that the music is quite old, but still holds special value to the speaker, like an antique chair or other piece of furniture. It holds sentimental value, so the speaker can't cast it aside as if it's insignificant.

The music represents an important time in his life, the...

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Uploaded by:   Appleman

Date:   06/09/2007

Category:   Poetry

Length:   4 pages (843 words)

Views:   10164

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