Afternoons Poem By Philip Larkin Summary, Notes And Line By Line Analysis In English


“Afternoons Poem’ is a poem written by Philip Larkin. It is a poem that delves deep into marriage and what adulthood responsibilities entails.

About the Poet:

Philip Larkin a.k.a Brunette Coleman (1922-1985) was an eminent English Poet. He is famed for being the recipient of the Shakespeare Prize. Famous works of his include ‘The Whitsun Weddings’, ‘This Be The Verse’, and ‘High Windows’. 

Stanza 1

Summer is fading:
The leaves fall in ones and twos
From trees bordering
The new recreation ground.
In the hollows of afternoons
Young mothers assemble
At swing and sandpit
Setting free their children.
Behind them, at intervals,
Stand husbands in skilled trades,
An estateful of washing,
And the albums, lettered
Our Wedding, lying
Near the television:
Before them, the wind
Is ruining their courting-places

The poem begins with how summer is fading and autumn was beginning at that time. The leaves of the trees thus “fall in ones and twos” around the new “recreation ground”, referring to some sort of playground here. Here, new mothers come along with their children to let them play in the swings and sandpit. Behind the women stood their husbands, who were skilled tradesmen.

What also stood was the big pile of laundry waiting to be washed back in their homes. Near the television also lies their wedding albums. Before them, the wind was destroying the very places they had once courted. A sense of midlife crisis experienced by these parents can be seen here wherein traces of disappointment in their lives can be noticed.

Stanza 2:

That are still courting-places
(But the lovers are all in school),
And their children, so intent on
Finding more unripe acorns,
Expect to be taken home.
Their beauty has thickened.
Something is pushing them
To the side of their own lives.

The courting place was still there. Except, it was used by young lovers who were still in school, not by them. These parent’s children, only interested in finding “more unripe acorns”, urge them to take them back home. The couple’s beauty is lost with their youth. They feel as they something is driving them to the margins of existence in their very own life. 


This is a thought-provoking poem. It takes a closer look at marriage and choosing to have children and the effect it has on one’s marital and adult life.