Church Going poem summary

About the poem

CHURCH GOING is a poem written by PHILIP LARKIN, in Ireland and published in 1954 through the collection of ‘The Less Deceived’. This poem is a masterpiece work by Philip Larkin.

Theme of the poem

The poem majorly depicts the religious matters, therefore the theme is an erosion of religious abutments that shows how people respect and follow their respective religion.

Form of the Poem

The poem has 63 lines, divided into 7 stanza and each stanza carry 9 lines. Each stanza has similar rhyming scheme- ABABCDECE, and iambic tetrameter.

Summary and Analysis

The poem ‘Church Going’ describes the curiosity and experience of the poet while visiting to the Church. The language of the poem is conversational and in the form of interrogation. It says that why people need to worship? Why they need to go to the worship places? It also explores the issue of the Church on the basis of religion. Also, the title of the poem interprets different aspects of religious matter, as the act of going to the Church, the customs that keep the Church alive, visiting the Church etc.

This poem is also an experience of poet himself, as it describes the visit to a CHURCH by Philip Larkin. In the poem Church Going, “Going” can also be described as his visit to the Church or declining faith in religion. In fact, Larkin himself says that he is more concerned with “going” to church, not to religion, but for himself the Church becomes a representative institution, and when Larkin speaks of it, he is at the same time concerned with religion. The point of view presented in the poem is not a unilateral one.

The opening line of the poem are more important for what they imply as,…”Once I am sure there’s nothing going on I step inside, letting the door thud shut”.  The poet probably would not have entered if some religious activity had been going on inside. He would have felt uncomfortable, embarrassed, ill at ease. The poet says that, he belongs to an age that is in ferment, the old being obsolete and the new not yet fit to take its place. Therefore, the values that were believed in earlier no longer provide spiritual support. Moreover, the poem is also described by G.S Fraser as the “movement’s prize religion”. It represents the true picture of the post- war Welfare State Englishman. Shabby and not concerned with his appearance’ like poor people who has a bike but not a car, gauche but full of agnostic pity. They are underpaid, underfed, overtaxed, hopeless and bored. In other words, the protagonist of “Church Going” is another variation of the unknown citizen that Auden spoke of in the thirties.

Philip Larkin wrote this poem very technically by following all the rules of poetry elements like; rhyme, metre, stanza etc.

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