Monday, 3 February 2014
DOCKERY AND SON (poem) by Philip Larkin
Initially, the first stanza, Larkin leads you to believe that the poem is just about reminiscing about his (or his persona's) time at Oxford University and the friends he made while he was there. And throughout the first stanza, this is mainly what he his doing. He has returned to Oxford and is talking to the Dean, who mentions that the son of one of his old university friends is now studying at the university and this gets him thinking about the choices he made or didn't make throughout his life leading unto this point. There is little more to say about this stanza.
Stanza two is where things really start to get interesting. He catches his train, 'ignored' and then begins to think about what the dean had said about Dockery's son being at the university and he also begins to have thoughts about his own choice to not have children. "Did he get his son // at nineteen, twenty?" suggests to us that he is shocked that his friend had a child so young and it also gives us the idea that maybe the persona did know his friend as well as he thought he did. The notion that Dockery had his son so young tells us quite clearly that this is what he wanted from the start. You would have to be certain that you definitely wanted children to make the conscious choice to have kids so early on in life. At this point in the poem, it is clear that Larkin is beginning to emphasis the importance of life choice and how important it is to take them seriously.
I believe that very little of this poem is about Dockery and his son, but more about the epiphany that this man and his son unknowingly ignite within Larkin's poetic persona.