Critical Analysis of 'Here' by Philip Larkin

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‘Here’ is a sprawling, moving and often majestic poem that takes the reader on a strikingly visual journey through the countryside and the town, before finally ending up on the coast. Larkin uses long, flowing sentences which add a sense of continual movement; these sentences are full of rich imagery and description which fully immerse the reader in the poem. The poem is titled ‘Here’, yet in the first three stanzas the poem takes in various locations and never stands still; the reader questions where ‘Here’ is, whether or not it is actually a specific, physical location. In ‘Here’, Larkin appears to be critical of the urban population, finding more beauty and appeal in the natural world than the human world, demonstrated by the fact that human presence in the poem is only temporary, fading away after the third stanza.

The first word of the poem, ‘Swerving’, lends an immediate sense of physical movement to the poem. However, it is not the traditional, vehicular sort of movement; trains and cars do not swerve. The movement in ‘Here’ is immediately free and unrestrained, as the ‘rich industrial shadows’ are left behind. This freedom of movement however, immediately contrasts with the ‘traffic all night north’, which momentarily stops the poem in its tracks, made clear by the following semi-colon which breaks up the line. However, the poem immediately starts up again, with the repetition of the word ‘swerving’ which reinforces the sense of free movement. Now, Larkin takes us through the ‘fields/too think and thistled to be called meadows’, before the poem is again interrupted by the influence of the human world- the poem halts for the ‘Workmen at dawn’. Larkin then repeats ‘Swerving’ for a third time. On three different occasions the word is used; each time to the same effect. By the end of the first stanza the reader can be in no doubt that Larkin is taking them on a journey. In the first stanza, and indeed in the whole...
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