Love In Philip Larkin's An Arundel Tomb

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The answer to whether love is true or faithless is not always concrete, and it is this question that plagues the speaker in Philip Larkin’s An Arundel Tomb. The poem centralizes itself around the medieval tomb of the Earl and Countess of Arundel, in which the speaker questions the validity of the statues’ seemingly eternal love. Although historical allusions offer hints and statements about the infidelious nature of the time period, and bring into question the accuracy of the couple’s portrayal, connotations, unlike facts, are not set in stone. Despite the challenges bias towards periods of history presents, love ultimately prevails as an ideal that transcends time. Larkin fills his first stanza with ambiguity. By employing diction such as “blurred” (1), “vaguely” (3), and “faint hint” (4), Larkin effectively establishes a universal meaning to the statues. This is important as, even though the stanza later goes on to establish the identity of those memorialized in stone, the Earl and Countess of Arundel, the main takeaway is that their faces are no longer representative of specific identities, allowing them to be generalized. Additionally, historical allusions are also present in the first stanza, which in turn reflect on the memorial itself. The “little dogs under their feet” (6) are symbolic of loyalty, while also explaining the context of the time period. In earlier times, it was not uncommon for the deceased to be buried with memories or even the remains of their

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