The poem isn't just based on aesthetics or looks, it has a deeper meaning.
The poem is for a specific person, Sally Amis, which contrasts to many of the poems which are just about general beauty. It is written for his friends daughter, Kingsley Amis.
It has a sentimental tone to the poem and Larkin was named the best post war writer, but recieved the award after death.
The poem is about what it takes to be happy and isn't just about the way you look.
'Tightly folded bud' is a metaphor for the youth. The child is in the nascent stages of life.
'I wished you something, none of the others would' other parents wish different things for their children, mainly about being beautiful.
'Not the usual stuff
About being beautiful,
Or running of a spring
Of innocence and love-' quite unromantic language and down to earth. The language down plays the significance of looks. The use of enjambment makes the list flow. The word 'spring' signifies the start of life, it also uses natural and pure imagery. There is a sense of realism and is quite dismissive of the importance of beauty and innocence.
As you get older looks become less important.
'They will all wish you that' this shows a sense of difference between everyone and shows an older view on love of generally being happy and not just for the beauty.
'And should it prove possible' this phrase shows a sense of doubt towards the poem.
'Well, your a lucky girl' quite a chatty tone. The use of the conjunction 'but' splits the poem and introduces his second line of arguement.
'But if it shouldn't, then
May you be ordinary;' quite insulting.
'Have, like other women,
An average of talents:' you don't want to have to many talents. Also quite sexist. Not as much pressure for boys to feel beautiful. The words ' average' and 'ordinary' are mediocre words to describe the girl.
'Not ugly, not good-looking,
Nothing uncustomary Aliterative repetition on the letter 'N'. Nothing special or unique about her.
To pull you off your balance,
That, unworkable itself,
Stops all the rest from working' if you have all the good talents nothing else will be noticed as you will be the same as everyone else. Conversational tone.
'In fact, may you be dull-
If that is what a skilled,
Catching of happiness is called' uses five adjectives in quick succession to show that happiness isn't easy to get. The language structure suggests happiness is difficult to catch, and the last line and the second to last line rhyme. The last three last contrast to the conversational tone of the poem.
This type of poem is an occasional piece. He subverts the fairytale idea of wishing for new and exciting things and instead wishes for useful talents and a genuine happiness.
The poem is written in normal spoken English, which makes the poem more realistic. The poem starts off with an ironic tone and at times cynical and sceptical and he contrasts an extraordinary event, like having a child, with ordinary language and has a sense of tenderness and realism.
Would be good to compare with sonnet 116 as they are both about genuine love. A less obvious link would be To His Coy Mistress, because the structure changes, also the start looks at a wishful side. They both look at peoples values being unrealistic.