Here By Philip Larkin

Here Philip Larkin: Here by Philip Larkin, the poet attempts to take the reader on a journey to a destination referred to only as “here”.

Larkin uses various devices such as imagery, sentence structure, punctuation, and alliteration to enhance the feeling of travel for the reader, and thus make the destination more effective.

At the start of the poem, Larkin creates the image of an unnamed force with which the reader is transported from place to place.

The closest worldly sensation to this force would be wind. Larkin creates the image of this wind using repetition: the constant use of the word “swerving” conjures an image of wind changing direction as it leads the reader from place to place. Additionally, the scenery describes such as “skies” and “clouds” that imply something in the air.

The mention of directions (“east” and “north”) also add to this image, such terms often used to refer to wind and gusts.

The directions included giving the reader a clue of where “here” actually is. Larkin, being based in London, describes the reader being taken “east” and “north”: such a wind would end up around East Anglia, somewhere that Larkin loved to visit.

This is backed up by the contents of the poem, the wind, and therefore the audience, being taken from a “rich industrial shadows”, to “a large town” to a “fishy-smelling” seaside town and finally to “a beach of shapes and shingle”, a form of beach typical to the East Anglian coast.

In not explicitly giving away the location of “here”, Larkin universalizes the poem, however, it’s being littered with direction and situational clues suggest that the desired effect was to somewhat guide the reader, perhaps for autobiographical and sentimental reasons, and Larkin is successful in this.

Larkin uses alliteration and sibilance to increase the fluidity of the poem, thus symbolizing the constant movement of the wind, and the journey that the reader is taken on. “Skies and scarecrows, haystacks, hairs” is an example early on in the poem, while “scattered streets” and “flat-faced” are used later on.

These increase the musicality and rhythm of the poem and, in doing so, emphasize the sensation of movement that occurs throughout.

Here By Philip Larkin

This makes the poem more fluid and makes it easier to read, thus allowing the reader to be transported to “here” more smoothly.

Lists are used to a similar effect in the poem. Throughout the first three stanzas, we see constant asyndetons that make the sense of a constant journey more apparent in the poem.

“Cheap suits, red kitchen-ware, sharp shoes, iced lollies” and “slave museum, tattoo shops, consulates” are both salient examples of this.

The repetitive use of commas instead of ‘and’ adds rhythm to the poem and makes it seem more ongoing; again this is representative of the ‘wind’ created in the first stanza, and thus the journey that the reader is on.

Additionally, such lists allow for vast detail, which gives the reader the impression of being omniscient, and all-seeing.

This, much like the aforementioned sky-like vocabulary in the first paragraph, creates a sensation that the events described are being seen from above, thus adding to the effect of a traveling wind.

The structure of the whole poem accommodates that of wind’s journey through the country until it reaches its destination.

The first three stanzas are all comprised of one sentence, albeit a long one packed with clauses. This continuity of the sentence throughout the poem alludes to the continuity of the wind, making its way across various scenes and locations.

The fact that the first full stop comes in the last stanza when the destination- “here” – has been reached symbolizes not only the end of the reader’s journey but also that of the wind.

Larkin describes the sea with, “ends the land suddenly beyond a beach”, and here, the land wind is lost to the ocean.

The destination of the poem, “here”, is symbolic of the destination of the wind before it goes to sea. In fact, in the last stanza, as the wind is reaching its destination, the sentence structure completely changes, and short, emphatic sentences such as “Here silence stands Like heat.” Are used.

The contrast in sentence length in the poem is symbolic of the journey of the wind and its end, and thus of the journey of the reader.

This is enhanced by the use of iambic pentameter throughout the poem.

For the first three paragraphs, the pentameter is flawless, adding to the sense of constant and rhythmic movement previously mentioned.

However, in the last stanza, it is more erratic, lines like “luminously peopled air ascend” falling a few syllables short or overreaching by a few syllables.

This, again, symbolizes the end of the journey.

The constant and emphatic repetition of the word “here”, also the title of the poem, suggests that not only has the physical destination been reached within the context of the poem, but also the ambition of the poem, to reach the title, ahs been obtained, and the journey is concluded.

Here by Philip Larkin is a poem describing a journey, and this journey is enhanced with punctuation, sentence structure, stanza structure and vocabulary, all key contributors to the overall effect of travel.
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