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Whereas Donald Davie and others had sought to defend Larkin's poetry from charges of gentility and parochialism by seeking to explain and justify its seemingly limited horizons, the new Larkin criticism argues more positively that the poetry often reveals a strongly 'affirmative' and 'transcendent' element. This strain of criticism is not entirely new. 3). B. S. Eliot and the French symbolist poets. What precipitated this new critical approach was undoubtedly the publication in 1974 of High Windows, a volume widely noted for its unusual experiments with form and its often unnerving obscurity and allusiveness.

Widdowson points out that this 'If clause is, in fact, a strange syntactic hybrid, a cross between the following two statements: I 2 If he stood here, he would see the clouds. I do not know if he stood here and saw the clouds. The sequence of the final lines invites one possible meaning, while the overall structure of the two stanzas invites another. The effect of this is to disorient the reader in a way that suggests the speaker's confused thoughts and attitudes. The final three words of the poem'I don't know'- are 'an expression of resignation to a general state of unknowing, a failure to understand'.

Fowler has not written specifically on the work of Philip Larkin, but his linguistic criticism will be adopted in the Appraisal section of this book (Part Two). At this stage it is worth illustrating how discourse theory might be applied to individual poems. A good start in this direction was made some years ago by Jonathan Raban in The Society of the Poem ( 1971). 27). He proceeds to 'map out the social geography' of poetry, asking if poetic order corresponds in any way to social order. 29-30).

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