Choose 3 poems and analyse the effectiveness of Larkin’s imagery (Journey)
‘Here’, ‘Whitsun Weddings’ and ‘Dockery and Son’ are all poems written by Larkin that take place on long train journeys (reflected by the fact that the three poems are the longest in the Whitsun Weddings anthology).
In ‘Here’ he travels east (the direction of beginnings) through a busy, squalid city to a beach of “unfenced existence”, an abstract transcendental place of peace and calm. ‘Here’ is the first poem of the anthology, and so begins a wider journey by introducing key themes that run through the entire collection; urbanisation, consumption, post-war false hope and the beauty of isolation.The train is a physical manifestation of Larkin’s own mental journey through soulless suburban sprawl to a place of simplicity and beauty. His description of the growing town where “spires and cranes cluster” contrasts sharply with the previous stanzas description of the countryside’s “solitude of skies and scarecrows”, and echoes the journey of Britain’s march towards urbanisation. The rise of consumer capitalism in the 60’s is discussed through the barrage of imagery concerning cheap items such as “red kitchen-ware, sharp shoes, iced lollies, electric mixers”. This strong evocation of the instant availability of such objects challenges Macmillan’s assertion that most people of the time “never had it so good”. While the time period saw an increase in the standard of living, Larkin’s train journey forces the reader to wonder whether quality of life deteriorated at the same time. The population is a “cut-price crowd”, full of “grim headscarfed wives” from “raw estates”; a brilliant critique of the post-war period where people have become cheapened similarly to the goods that they buy (a theme also in The Large Cool Store). The “raw estates” conjure up images of wounds roughened, sore and painful; perhaps a remnant of the war that only 15 years previously ripped the country apart. Here,...
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