I agree with what has been said about the poem already. The sharp, shocking start almost blends and smoothens out towards the ending lines. This is one of those Larkin poems that showcases hope. A hope to reach something that is greater and much beyond us.
The power of this poem lies in the journey Larkin makes from the suffocating baseness of the opening stanza to the freedom of the final stanza, it is almost as if the poet breathes in a large gulp of oxygen after struggling with his breathing. Larkin turns our usual perceptions of life and death on their heads. It is life that becomes stifling in this poem and death that is releasing.
I read this poem and I think it is about his struggle with faith as he never stops seeking an answer but he is also never able to find something satisfactory or good enough for him.
'everyone young going down the long slide
to happiness, '.
What is this long slide to happiness? Young is used here maybe not refer to people young of age but means people who are new to the faith. The young believers are maybe all 'going down' in search for 'happiness'. Instead of finding true happiness as the faith tells him he may have felt that it is a lie. He may have felt that it is a waste of someone’s mind to commit themselves to faith. He looks back at himself maybe wishing he was one of those young souls seeking God again, then finish with the thought that he would 'go down the slide' like 'free bloody birds'.
Larkin ends up, feeling lost and not being able to receive any direction.
It seems that the more Larkin seeked to find the Truth, the more delirious he got. I think that maybe that is Larkin's mood in his many attempts to find an answer.