“Here” is a poem by Philip Larkin that was first published in 1964. The poem is about the speaker’s experience of coming to a new place and feeling like an outsider.
The speaker in “Here” describes the feeling of being in a new place and not belonging. They talk about how they don’t know anyone and how they feel like they are the only one who is different. The speaker also talks about how they feel like they are being watched all the time and how they can’t relax.
Overall, “Here” is a poem about feeling lost and alone in a new place. The speaker conveys their feelings of isolation and insecurity through their descriptions of the new environment around them.
‘Here’ is a poem about Larkin’s train journey from London to Hull, which is the first poem in The Whitsun Weddings collection. It appears to be an excellent start since it ponders on humanity’s position in the world and the influence of consumerism, much like his other work.
Larkin starts the poem with a description of the cityscape and how it changes as the train moves away from London. He writes about the ‘sudden discarded rubbish’ which is a metaphor for human civilization and how it can be seen as worthless when viewed from a distance.
He then goes on to describe how the further away from London the train gets, the more ‘green and wild’ the countryside becomes. This contrasts sharply with the cityscape and emphasizes humanity’s disconnection from nature.
The final stanza sees Larkin returning to his original thoughts on consumerism and civilization. He describes how everything in the world is ‘owned’ by somebody and how this ultimately makes everything pointless.
‘Here’ is a dark and depressing poem which reflects Larkin’s pessimistic view of the world. It is a thought-provoking piece which makes the reader consider their own place in the world.
Following the pattern of many other poems in this collection, ‘Here’ begins with physical terms like “luxury seats” and “rich industrial images,” before becoming more abstract in the final stanza. Larkin instantly conveys a sense of time being suspended in the present for him by beginning the poem with the participle, “swerving.”
The poem is written in quatrains, with each stanza having an ABAB rhyme scheme. The first three stanzas all begin with the word ‘here’, which could have various connotations. It could be read as a statement of fact, that this is where the speaker is; it could be read as an exclamation of surprise or pleasure at the sudden beauty of the view; or it could be read as a declaration of ownership, that this place now belongs to the speaker because they have seen it and been moved by it.
Larkin also uses enjambment between each stanza, which gives a sense of continuity and forward motion. This is appropriate for a poem about a journey, but it also has the effect of blurring the boundaries between each stanza, which could be read as a metaphor for the way that time and memory can become blurred.
The first two stanzas focus on the physical images of the landscape: ‘hedges and houses’, ‘fields and lanes’. These are all familiar images, but they take on a new significance when seen from a train window. They become part of a pattern or tapestry, with each element fitting into its place. This is similar to the way that Larkin often uses objects in his poetry to create metaphors for larger ideas. In this poem, the objects are used to create a sense of order and stability, which is in contrast to the final stanza.
The third stanza begins with the word ‘now’, which suggests a change of mood. The images in this stanza are more abstract, and they are also less specific to any one place. The ‘white line’ could be interpreted as a metaphor for the journey itself, or for time passing. The ‘green field’ could represent nature, or it could be a symbol of hope.
The final stanza is the shortest in the poem, and it has a very different tone from the rest of the poem. Up until this point, the poem has been relatively calm, but in the final stanza, there is a sense of unease and even danger. The ‘red signal’ could be interpreted as a warning, or it could be a symbol of danger. The word ‘swerving’ is repeated from the first line, but this time it takes on a different meaning. In the first stanza, it was used to create a sense of movement, but in the final stanza, it suggests something more chaotic and uncontrolled.
The final line of the poem is open to interpretation. It could be read as a statement of defiance, with the speaker refusing to give up despite the dangers they face. Alternatively, it could be read as a statement of resignation, with the speaker accepting that they will never reach their destination.
This poem is an excellent example of how Larkin uses objects and images to create metaphors for larger ideas. It is also a good example of how he uses sound effects to create a sense of atmosphere. The poem is relatively simple in terms of its language, but it is very effective in conveying the speaker’s emotions.
The word is abrupt, signifying a quick action and repetition of this through the first stanza to emphasize this sensation, giving a feeling of Larkin’s thoughts being free and unconfined. The sharp sounds of the ‘thin and thistled’ fields then contrast the beauty of this movement, drawing attention to the transition from town to countryside.
This also allows for a change in tone as the poem progresses, from one of excitement to a more mellow and content feeling.
Larkin’s choice to use enjambment throughout the poem gives it a sense of energy, which is important as the speaker is meant to be walking. It also allows him to play with the pacing, so that certain lines stand out more than others. For example, the line ‘And sudden as a turning-head’ is placed at the end of the first stanza, giving it extra emphasis.
The second stanza sees the speaker reflecting on his life up until this point. He talks about how he has always been searching for something, but he never quite knows what it is. This could be interpreted as a metaphor for how he has never been able to find true happiness. The line ‘I have been happy all my life’ could be seen as ironic, as the speaker is currently not happy with his lot in life.
The final stanza sees the speaker come to a realization that he may never find what he is looking for. But instead of being upset by this, he seems content with the knowledge. He talks about how there are many things in life that are just out of reach, and that’s okay. The poem ends on a positive note, with the speaker saying that he is ‘at home’ in the world.
Philip Larkin was an English poet, who is known for his realistic and often depressing poems about everyday life. ‘Here’ is a perfect example of this, as it deals with the speaker’s mundane walk through the countryside. But despite the seemingly ordinary subject matter, Larkin manages to create a beautiful and thought-provoking poem.