Compare the ways in which Larkin and Abse create a sense of place in their poems.

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Compare the ways in which Larkin and Abse create a sense of place in their poems. In your response you must include detailed critical discussion of at least two of Larkin’s poems.

Throughout the anthology ‘The Whitsun Weddings’, Larkin’s presents both himself and the narrators he uses as generally detached from places and shows he doesn’t feel emotionally attached to places traditionally considered sentimental, such as his parents’ house, as shown in ‘Home is So Sad’. Larkin also presents a dislike for urbanisation and industrialism, and finds comfort in unfamiliar places, “strangeness made sense”. In direct contrast, in ‘Last Visit to 198 Cathedral Road”, Abse is shown to be emotionally overcome by his attachment to his parent’s house, and this sense of attachment can be shown throughout his poems, as he constantly shows his sentiment towards Wales and his hometown of Ogmore in particular.

A sense of place is perhaps best shown by Larkin in his poem ‘Here’. In this poem, he creates a juxtaposition of country and cities, and through his language suggests that country is preferable. He uses words such as “cheap”, “grim” and “raw” to suggest he finds industrialism undesirable, and also suggests that the people are of a lower class and to be looked down on; “a cut-price crowd, urban yet simple”. The surging momentum of the poem’s opening lines imitates the swerving motion of the train, which reinforces Larkin’s views towards modernism, as the repetition of the verb “swerving” suggests an unpleasant sensation.  In the third stanza, he creates a sense of city through description, “tattoo-shops, consulates, grim head-scarfed wives”, and chooses to show images with traditionally negative connotations, for example tattoos, to highlight his dislike for cities.  The random acquisitiveness of the shoppers who converge makes them indistinguishable from the crowds in any other urban areas, suggesting the cities can be depersonalising. As may be expected of Larkin, he shows a disliking for consumerism, “cheap suits”, as a critic remarked ‘Larkin’s presentation of the growth of consumer culture evinces nostalgia for the innocence of the past’.

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Although for Larkin the countryside is depicted as “gold” and “shining”, as the train draws further from the country he begins to describe it with more negative words. Phrases such as “Isolate villages” and “unfenced existence” creates a semantic field that suggests isolation, which Larkin furthers by saying “loneliness clarifies”, suggesting that the space in the country allows for loneliness and neglect, as the people there are described as leading “removed lives”, whilst the “cluster” and “crowds” of the cities leave no space to feel alone. Larkin’s views on urbanisation are seen in other works of movement poets, who were ...

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