Ambulances ~ by Philip Larkin
Closed like confessionals, they thread
Loud noons of cities, giving back
None of the glances they absorb.
Light glossy grey, arms on a plaque,
They come to rest at any kerb:
All streets in time are visited.
Then children strewn on steps or road,
Or women coming from the shops
Past smells of different dinners, see
A wild white face that overtops
Red stretcher-blankets momently
As it is carried in and stowed,
And sense the solving emptiness
That lies just under all we do,
And for a second get it whole,
So permanent and blank and true.
The fastened doors recede. Poor soul,
They whisper at their own distress;
For borne away in deadened air
May go the sudden shut of loss
Round something nearly at an end,
And what cohered in it across
The years, the unique random blend
Of families and fashions, there
As last begin to loosen. Far
From the exchange of love to lie
Unreachable inside a room
The traffic parts to let go by
Brings closer what is left to come,
And dulls to distance all we are.
According to Marx, the upper class (the bourgeoisie) is the one to have the economic power and garner social and political control of the society. The working class is as the slave for them, who earn more and more profits by exploiting °»the slave.°… Under this system, the rich become richer and the poor become poorer and more demeaned. In addition to this disparity, there are also many problems triggered by this system. I chose one poem by Philip Larkin, Ambulances, to explain one of the problems: alienation among the labors. Through portraying the ambulances°« relationship with people, the author pointed out the alienation is expanding among human beings. Furthermore, to assess this poem from the perspective of Marxism, I found it also reflects 2 kinds of alienation that one is engendered in the system of capitalism while ambulances stand for the role of capitalists and °»we°… for the labors, and the other alienation is occurred on the labors, themselves.
The content of the poem reveals that although ambulances, taking away lives, make alive people estrange from the dead, the alive themselves are getting more alienated from each other. The author seemed to imply the problem existing in the modern world. At the same time, it is similar to the alienation in Marxism. Marx considered that work would alienate the worker; so alienation means to dispossess others of something that belongs to them. As a result, taking away people°«s lives, the ambulance is likely to play the role, which takes away the value the labors create, that is, the capitalists. So, the alienation in capitalism is shown by ambulances°« relation with people. In addition, under the long-term duress, the working class may be gradually distant from each other, which corresponds to the alienation generated among the alive people in the last two stanzas.
Firstly, the depiction of ambulances hints the aloofness and privilege of the capitalists. In 1st line, the ambulances are likened to the confessionals. People go to the confessionals for questing the spiritual comfort. Basically, it has some connection to the capitalists since they offer the chance of work to labors who can earn some money. So, the difference is that confessionals provide spiritual contentment to those feeling guilty while capitalists provide material satisfaction to labors. Next, while threading through cities, confessionals gave back none of the glances they absorb (line1 to line3). This suggests that the capitalists, giving no look at the labors, are unconcerned about their death and life. In particular, the word °»rest°… shows that the capitalists are often at ease and gain profits without sweating.
Secondly, the character °»we°… is the representation of the working class, who know the cruel fact of exploitation and the alienation among themselves. The labors°« realization of being exploited can be seen from the 1st to 4th lines of the 3rd stanza. °»Sense the solving emptiness°… explains that the labors know the truth and also the diminishing and unfair value they gain. They know the capitalists divest them of most of the value. Beside the alienation between them and value, the labors are gradually estranged from each other (second alienation) and the reciprocal emotions are impaired so that the bond of love (or any kind of relationship) will be loose (see the last stanza). Under the capitalists°« oppressing, the working classes°« labor worth and life worth are degraded so much, which affects the tightness of bond among them. In a word, the labors are alienated not only from the value they should gain but also alienated from human nature.
Any kind of discrimination and inequality will lead to destruction on society and human relationship or human nature. In modern world, people are getting more and more estranged from each other without knowing it. We should try to retain our human nature and reinforce the ties among mankind.