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    The Importance of Elsewhere Essay

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    Choose two poems in which Larkin explores places, Discuss his use of language, form and structure and the attitudes he explores towards the subject (Here & The Importance of Elsewhere). As is common for Larkin he begins the poem “Here” on a journey. This particular poem suggests a train journey from the south-east, maybe in London where Larkin spent a great deal of his time, up to the north-east, to possibly his Home town of Hull. He depicts, from what we imagine to be his seat on the train, many features of post war England as the train moves out of the “industrial shadows” up to rural Landscape and back to urban surroundings before reaching it’s final destination. Larkin uses the idea of journeys and travelling to create the sensation of time passing or to illustrate changes in the world or economy.

    However, unlike “Here”, “The Importance of Elsewhere” does not see Larkin begin his journey, rather he begins this poem when he obviously feels, as indicated by the opening line “lonely in Ireland”. Many claim that this poem was written during the time Larkin spent working in Ireland. The feeling that perhaps Larkin did not fit in is suggested by the strict half rhyme scheme that run’s through this poem, consisting of words that partly rhyme and sound as though they should fit together.

    “Swerving East from Industrial shadows”, Larkin begins his journey in the poem “Here”. Larkin who we imagine to be sat, starring from the train window, begins to list rural images to emphasise the countryside landscape as he passes through it. Using alliteration Larkin Links his words together in the list and creates a quicker pace to the end of the first eight-lined stanza “skies and scarecrows”, “hares and Haystacks”. As we move form the first stanza to the next, we become aware of a transition from rural landscape to urban surroundings. Larkin now creates a list of 1950’s post war England and comments upon the “domes and statues” and the “cranes” that “cluster”, also, characteristically, he uses hyphenated words to gradually paint a detailed image of what he’s observing. In this case it’s “grain-scattered streets” and “barge-crowded water”.

    Larkin now in mid journey begins to toy with the idea of post war consumerism, and constructs a list of random material goods, which are unable to serve our needs, amongst which are “cheap suits, red kitchen ware, sharp shoes, iced lollies”. The rhyme scheme remains unchanged, as we are again aware of another change in location. This new location claims Larkin, is only the place of a “cut priced crowd” visited only by “salesman and relations”. Yet larkin still plays with the ideas of “never having it so good” as he comments on “mortgaged half built edges” that are not yet owned let alone finished. Nevertheless, Larkin again describes the calm rural landscape and sets a still and silent atmosphere by finishing long windy sentences with a short stopping sentence.

    Using another list, Larkin begins to describe his rural surroundings “hidden weeds flower”, “neglected waters quicken” and he uses assonance when setting the “bluish neutral” background. The elemental images used by larkin such as water and earth create a calm tranquil setting. In the place where Larkin is, weeds are not killed off but left to “flower”, waters are not polluted or blocked but “neglected” and allowed to flow, nothing is hemmed in. “Here” claims Larkin is “unfenced existence” where he faces the sun, “untalkative, out of reach”. Larkin begins “The Importance of Elsewhere” by claiming that he’s “lonely in Ireland” but goes on to excuse the strange feeling he has “since it was not home”.

    “The Importance of Elsewhere” is a poem that reflects the strange, unusual feelings Larkin held while working in Ireland. Many claim that this is most strongly conveyed through the strict half rhyme scheme which run’s through this poem. It is made up of three, four-lined stanzas, the first and third of which run parallel to each other, Larkin deliberately does this to invite the reader to make a comparison between the two.

    The first stanza of this poem clearly explains that Larkin feels “lonely in Ireland”, however, this is to be expected, claims Larkin, “Since it was not home”. He explains that once the difference between him and Ireland was recognised they “were in touch”. The second stanza, as is common for Larkin, begins with Larkin constructing a list of the unusual features and customs of the Irish culture such as the “draughty streets” and the “smell of dockland”, while still managing to retain a strict half rhyme scheme. Leaving words such as “Like a stable ” and “not unworkable” to rhyme. All the unusual features of Irish life, Claim Larkin “prove” that he is “separate”. However, using a double negative deems them “not unworkable”.

    In the final stanza, Larkin recognises the “customs” and “establishments” of English life and declares that these would be “much more serious to refuse”. This final stanza illustrates that Larkin feels peculiar in both his own country and in Ireland as he proposes, “living in England has no such excuse “. In Ireland Larkin is perhaps more justified in his feelings, as he is not at home in familiar surroundings, surrounded by familiar faces, and so should feel a little strange? However, the fact that Larkin feels “England has no such excuse” shows us that he feels awkward there as well, Hence the importance of elsewhere for Larkin.

    Both poems conclusively point to the same thing, and therefore both have similar endings. The Fact that Larkin is not a people person and views himself as a “person in the shade”(w w) is suggested by the endings of both “Here” and “The Importance of Elsewhere” where Larkin ends up alone or talking about a place where he can be alone. “Here” sees Larkin travel on a long train journey to end up in “unfenced existence”, “out of sight” and “out of reach”, many argue, this is as Larkin would prefer. However, “The Importance of Elsewhere” talks of how Larkin feels strange away from home as he does at home, and stresses the importance of elsewhere, where “no elsewhere underwrites” Larkin’s “existence”.

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    The Importance of Elsewhere Essay. (2017, Nov 03). Retrieved from

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