Water by Philip Larkin is a simple complex poem and the complexity of meaning within the simple structure of the poem has given it various opinions.
I will be dishing out my own point of view irrespective of its acceptance. I see freedom of choice and religious perspectives as the themes of the poem.
Philip Larkin began the poem as if someone requested his advice on the issue of starting a religion. He said that if he was called in to start a religion, he would not deny the use of water, the act of sousing and the scientific experimentation of placing a glass of water where it can generate more light:
“And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly” (stanza 4 of Water by Philip Larkin)
I believe that Larkin took the use of water and drenching so important in his own religious creation because Christianity did the same where a true Christian m
ust be baptized, the sick jumped into a healing pool of water and those who didn’t obey God to enter the ark of Noah were destroyed by water.
The poem is a monologue which used the first person singular pronoun “I” to express the poet’s view. The is also said to hold element of sarcasm (base on readers opinion) because the first stanza of the poem made it look like religion is easily created by anyone. There is metaphor in the poem where religion is compared to a building that builders construct.
The poem has no end rhyme pattern with four stanzas of 3 line except the fourth line which was 4 linesThere are alliterations like: “dry, different clothes” in line 6 “devout drench” in line 9. Imageries found are “A furious devout drench” “A glass of water” “any-angled light”.
I believe that freedom of choice should be considered a theme in the poem because the poet no only show freedom in his choice of word and opinion, he showed that human has the freedom to make his own religion and even worship the he or she pleases; that was why Philil Larkin preferred his religion be mixture of science and christianity. Philip Larkin was tempted to mention church in the poem but his freedom of choice gave him the opportunity to avoid words like Christianity, God, Jesus Christ, Baptism, etc.
Another theme is religious perpectives where Philip Larkin made use of metaphorical allusion of Jesus Christ given the task to create christianity in collaboration with essential elements: light (dove descending from heaven) and water (baptism). He expressed how his own religion would look like.
Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings soaring high)