Mr. Bleaney is a poem by Philip Larkin. It has seven stanzas split into two main themes. It is about the thoughts of Larkin as the landlady shows him around the room of the mysterious ‘Mr. Bleaney’. I think that ‘the Bodies’ was where he worked; it could be a colloquial reference to a particular part of a company. This would fit in with ‘They moved him’ as it could be a transfer. ‘Bodies’ is also quite relevant because the poem was written immediately after the Second World War.
The room itself is very simple. Too simple; ‘one hired box’ in which he must live.
The poem very much reflects the thing that it is describing, the room and even the life, (if you can call it that); of Mr. Bleaney seem dull, monotonous and bare. Even his name is bland. The poem reflects this not only in words but in its rhyme scheme and rhythm too. It has a rhyme scheme of ABAB and it continues throughout the poem and shows the predictability of their lives.
The enjambment which continues throughout the poem shows how the monotonousness of his life runs on and on. The room doesn’t even have a coat hook on the back of the door, a feature found in prison cells, and the curtains are ‘five inches from the sill’.
This shows how unloved and unlived in this room is. The furniture in the room is described in one line. ‘Bed, upright chair, sixty-watt bulb’: even the most basic rooms have a shade over the bulb.
Here is juxtaposition with a prison cell, along with the upright chair, and the size. (‘No room for books or bags’). What surprises the reader is when Larkin says ‘I’ll take it’. This phrase is normally associated with happiness at what you are purchasing, and this room is clearly not satisfactory. The second part of the poem is the four remaining stanzas. It is about the life of Mr.
Bleaney and how it relates to Larkin. For most of it Larkin looks down on Bleaney, and thinks he wasted his life to be living there for so long. However, while reading it, you realise that actually, Larkin is a reflection of Bleaney’s life. He imitates him by lying in his bed and stubbing his cigarettes on the same saucer. Larkin says that he stuffs his ears with cotton wool to drown out the ‘jabbering’. This refers to a radio and the fact that the walls are probably paper-thin. However it could refer to the jabbering of the landlady who was talking about the habits of Mr. Bleaney. The fact that Bleaney kept ‘plugging away’ at the football four aways shows the dull repetitiveness of his life, that year after year he does the same thing. It also shows how long he had been living in that house. One of the more nasty images is the ‘fusty’ bed. This shows how little people cared about their own sleeping conditions. It could also have some connotations about his sex life, along with ‘frigid’ in the previous line. Without doubt, the last two stanzas are the most disturbing. The fusty bed and when Bleaney told himself that he was at home and ‘grinned’.
This shows almost a demented side to him. The word is almost the word ‘grim’ which describes his room and life. It could be referring to grinning and bearing the load. He shakes off the dread that he hasn’t achieved anything that he can show except a ‘hired box’, which is almost certainly a coffin. The last line indicates a reflective state of mind, with the last three words almost drifting off. It shows how Larkin possibly feels that he can’t be one to judge as he is in the same position, and although he knows a lot about him, he did not actually know him himself.
He is making assumptions based on what he has been told, just like the reader. However, Larkin does not know this because he says ‘But if he stood’ implying that it is all theoretical. Overall I think that this poem is quite typical of Larkin, in that it is very clever with the use of words, it is depressing in some way, and it is very thought provoking. Larkin manages to say everything with the right words whilst making it rhyme. He makes it seem more vivid, more realistic when he doesn’t use many similes or metaphors.