Study Guide

Aubade Religion

By Philip Larkin

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Even though our speaker directly address religion only briefly in "Aubade," the entire poem is kind of a rejection of religion and religion's ideas about death. It seems pretty safe to say that the speaker in this poem won't be showing up at his local Sunday service or singing in the choir. Religion doesn't hold any comfort for this guy, and it seems like he harbors some contempt for the institution as a whole.

Questions About Religion

  1. Larkin addresses religion directly in the poem's third stanza. Does the poem deal with religion and religious ideas about death indirectly anywhere else in the poem? Where and how?
  2. Did you have a positive or a negative reaction to the third stanza? What caused you to react the way you did? Would the poem be changed in a significant way if the third stanza were omitted? Why or why not?
  3. Play devil's advocate for a minute: tell Larkin why he's wrong about religion and its ability to offer people comfort regarding death's inevitability.

Chew on This

In "Aubade," the poem's speaker dismisses religion as a means to deal with the inevitability of death. He doesn't believe in God or an afterlife, and he is one sad puppy. This fact actually makes a strong argument for the effectiveness of religion in dealing with the complexity and fear of death.

By having a speaker that dismisses religion and all other philosophical means of coping with death, Larkin makes the fear of death feel even stronger and more immediate. Larkin chose to have the speaker mock religion simply to heighten the poem's sense of desperation and isolation. Mission: accomplished.

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