Study Guide

Aubade Dissatisfaction

By Philip Larkin

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I work all day, and get half-drunk at night. (1)

This doesn't sound like the description of a very fulfilling life, does it? Work and drink are not in and of themselves symbols of dissatisfaction. But the speaker doesn't say he works hard and plays hard. There is no mention of what the work is. It seems it isn't worth mentioning. And there is no mention of coworkers. We don't get the sense that the speaker is hanging out with his pals after work having a pint. This is another kind of drinking—more anti-social and problematic. It just sounds like a never-ending cycle of nondescript work and drunkenness.

--The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused-- (12-13)

This doesn't sound like a man that has lived a very fulfilling life. The speaker states that these missed opportunities and wasted times are not in fact his primary concerns. These are not the things that cause his mind to blank. But the mere fact that the speaker mentions them gives them significance. These may not be what he considers the primary causes of his angst, but they are there nonetheless and add to the general sense of dissatisfaction that runs throughout the poem.

Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse. (45-47)

Telephones are crouching like animals getting ready to attack. The world is uncaring and complicated and it isn't even really ours—it's rented (like that funky tuxedo you wore to the formal last spring that had somebody's old tissue in the pocket—not cool). This view of the world suggests the speaker has not led a very fulfilling life. His fear and obsession with death won't let him feel satisfied.

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