Study Guide

Aubade Speaker

By Philip Larkin

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Our speaker is, well… how can Shmoop put this without sounding too mean? The guy (and we're just assuming it's a guy) is a huge drag. His drinking habits put him well outside the range of a social drinker. He sounds like he hates his job—we imagine some kind of soul-sucking desk job. He seems fairly educated, but not elitist or academic. He doesn't seem to have anyone special in his life. Shmoop imagines lots of dirty dishes in the sink, crumbs on the coffee table, and a pretty funky smell in this guy's pad.

Despite the fact that the speaker is dealing with the terrifying prospect of his own death, his tone stays pretty even. He doesn't seem overly emotional. We get the sense that this isn't our speaker's first time waking up and contemplating his pending doom. This probably isn't his first night sitting alone in a dark room with death. And for that, in a weird way we have to admire him. He's not logging onto Facebook or DVR'ing Dancing with the Stars. Sure, he may be depressive, but he's engaged with the BIGGER TRUTHS of life—and death. He's not trying to cover them up with trivial pursuits; he faces them head-on. Of course, he (or at least his personality) pays the price for that kind of attentiveness.

Is this speaker Larkin? Well, from what we know of Larkin's life, he certainly seems to share some of Phil's feelings and beliefs, but it's always a good idea to separate the poet from the speaker. What we can say for certain is that this speaker is definitely not the guy you want to turn to for any kind of a pep talk. He's a gloomy Gus, but give him a break. You'd be grumpy too if death kept showing up for sleepovers.

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