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A hunger in himself to be more serious, And gravitating with it to this ground, Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in, If only that so many dead lie round.
A hunger in himself .......... dead lie round.
REFERENCE (i) Poem: Church Going (ii) Poet: Philip Larkin CONTEXT
(i) Occurrence: End of the Poem (Lines 60-63/63)
(ii) Content: The poet goes into a church and sees the matting on the floor, the seats, a number of Bibles, flowers, and a small small organ etc. He mounts the lectern, and goes through a few verses in a Bible. Then he goes back to the entrance, signs the book, drops an Irish sixpence into the charity-box, and comes out. It seems to him that it was not worthwhile for him to come to the church. He asks himself what will happen to churches when there are no more believers in the world. Finally, he admits that he is pleased by the church because it is a serious place for serious questions.
In these lines the poet praises the church's power to make human life meaningful. There are many people who are not always happy with just killing time and listening to the top singles on iTunes; they look for a deeper, more serious purpose to life. This desire for deeper meaning in the universe, make people "gravitate" towards the holy ground of a church. When the poet imagines "gravitating [...] to this ground", he is talking about the attraction of both the physical place where the church may once have stood, and the attraction of belief in general. The poet believes that the ground of a church is a "proper place to grow wise in" because it is surrounded by dead folks. Here, the poet is referring to the fact that the grounds surrounding churches are traditionally used as graveyards, meaning that a lot of dead bodies hang out nearby. He is saying that, even if there is not literally a God out there, there is still something to be said about this fact: for thousands of years, people have gone to their graves in the presence of a church -- in other words, believing in God and heaven.