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"Here": A Poetic Discussion

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Katie Udell

on 22 April 2013

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Transcript of "Here": A Poetic Discussion

By:Katie, Maddi, and Megan About The Poet: Philip Larkin Time Travel: 1920s-1980s "Here" What does "Here" mean, exactly? Wikipedia page on Philip Larkin Lived from 1922-1985 1920s
-Ford Model T
-Hitler's attempted coup
-Stock Market Crash The rhyme scheme is very clever when observed closely. The four-stanza poem is quite structured.
-First stanza: ABABCDDC
-Second Stanza: FEEFGHGH
-Third Stanza: IJIJKLLK
-Fourth Stanza:MNNMOPOP
While the actual sounds differ, Larkin always starts the next stanza with the same rhyme scheme pattern that closed the previous stanza.
The meaning of this poem is open to interpretation. Here are a few ideas as to the interpretation of this poem, though.
Works Cited Here: A Poetry Explication Presentation Larkin was a poet and a novelist. He graduated from Oxford!! He was a librarian, and published his greatest work. His poetry was considered to be highly structured, and he was named the greatest post-war writer. Larkin had an unusual childhood, a passion for music, and bad eyes that resulted in him failing a military exam. Had an affair with Patsy Strang, one of his collegue's wives! Was an important figure in his library. Larkin was diagnosed with inoperable Esophageal Cancer (cancer of the esophagus), and died a short time later. He asked on his deathbed that his many diaries be destroyed, a request that was honored. 1930's
-Great Depression
-Bonnie and Clyde Crime Spree
-Hindenburg Crash 1940s
-Height of WWII
-Pearl Harbor Attack
-Atomic bombs used on Japan 1950's
-Cold War
-Beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement
-Disneyland opens :) 1960s
-America puts the first man on the moon
-Martin Luther King Jr. assasinated
-Vietnam War
-Hippies! 1970s
-Munich Olympics tragedy
-Roe v. Wade legalizes abortion in US
-Watergate Scandal
-Margaret Thatcher becomes first female PM 1980's
-Fall of Berlin Wall
-Mount St. Helens eruption
- AIDS identified as the new, worldwide plague The tone seems almost cynical. Words like 'swerving', 'harsh', 'dead', 'cheap', and 'isolate' seem to support this.Perhaps the speaker is bored of the scenery of the area he is in, or perhaps he is overwhelmed by all of the change (or lack of change) he is seeing in the landscape.
What do you think?? There didn't seem to be much figurative language (apart from imagery) in the poem. In fact, there is barely any. Perhaps the only figurative language in the whole poem occurs at the very end, lines 31-32, "Here is unfenced existence: facing the sun, untalkative, out of reach." Even then, though, that seems fairly straightforward. The sun is out of reach and doesn't talk, but perhaps away from civilization, the sun and the sky's the limit.
Where else could there be figurative language? There doesn't seem to much in the way of meter for this poem. It flows well enough, but upon closer inspection, there is nothing particularly solid. There seem to be a few iambic lines (i.e. line 22). Apart from that, it just seems to flow without any set meter. The syntax, punctuation, etc of this poem is quite interesting. There is no period until line 25 out of 32. There are four periods total in the whole poem, and they all occur in the last stanza. There are lots of commas, several hyphens, and multiple colons and semicolons.The first 25 lines are a very long sentence. Perhaps this is a way to illustrate the long, swerving monotony of the landscape.
How else does syntax affect the meaning of the poem? The poem is stanzaic, made up of 4 octets. Larkin uses vivid, familiar imagery throughout his poem. In fact, for many, it is not particularly difficult to imagine life in the early 1960s, when this poem was written. Think 'vintage'. But even the country imagery is easy for us to picture. Wheat fields, thin, straggly, depressing grass fields, long highways that seem to stretch on for eternity, curving and swerving for no particular reason. It's very easy to imagine the whole landscape, to be where Larkin is describing, mainly because his imagery is so blunt and straightforward, and the fact that it seems so relatable to all kinds of people. He describes the country, city, and coastal life, and that covers pretty much everyone.
What else does the imagery in the poem reveal? Larkin uses a lot of consonance throughout this poem. He uses the 's' sound in virtually every line, sometimes multiple times. He also uses sharp 'c' sounds, which help solidify the critical or cynical tone of the poem. He uses the actual word 'swerving' several times. The concept of being alone comes up several times when Larkin uses word choices such as 'solitude' and 'loneliness'. The diction is tied to the imagery, too, with the consonance helping the imagery drag on, seemingly. Perhaps Larkin is downplaying city life in favor of country life. He seems to describe the country life as being an "unfenced existence", free from the barriers of city life. A more cynical view of this poem would be that perhaps Larkin is bored of life where he is experiencing all of these sights and activities. He seems disdainful of those around him, "a cut-price crowd, urban yet simple", he calls them. He describes the city streets as being "dead straight miles". The country is not much better. "Here silence stands like heat', Larkin seems to laments. Larkin ends by looking to the sun for aid, but receives no answer, for the sun doesn't talk. Are either of these interpretations viable or believable? Is there another interpretation?? The literary devices certainly add to the poem's meaning. The imagery and diction are especially important, because they are the easiest to spot and relate to the poem. Perhaps that is why Larkin used such straightforward descriptions and didn't use much metaphorical or symbolic language throughout this poem. How else do the literary devices add to the meaning of the poem? Ending thoughts on the poem or poet?? About.com page on life during the 20th Century Decades
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