UA Fanthorpe is a poet who dislikes modern life. Consider this, using examples from 'Safe As Houses'.

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UA Fanthorpe is a poet who dislikes modern life. Consider this, using examples from ‘Safe As Houses’. – Kate Graham

In ‘A Major Road for Romney Marsh’, Fanthorpe’s view of modern life is easily identifiable. The poem is set out like an argument, the words on the right being the thoughts of developers, people who want the road, arguing against those who believe the marsh is best left untouched. Fanthorpe shows her love for nature by her choice of diction, ‘peaceable’ being used to describe the canal. She personifies the Marsh, describing its small churches as being ‘truculent’. When she comments on how ‘nowhere’ else is like it in the first stanza of the poem, we feel admiration for the Marsh, and the line, ‘It is itself, and different’, near the bottom of the poem brings home the fact that in modern society very few things can be called different anymore. It is glaringly obvious that Fanthorpe appreciates this natural space of ‘solitude’ and ‘strangeness’; however, the same cannot be said of her view on the property developers thoughts.

The poet uses alliteration of the letter H to make the words harsh and invasive, ‘hard shoulders, Happy Eaters, Heavy breathing of HGVs’. This immediately presents their argument in an unfavourable light. Abbreviations are used, ‘Ind Ests’ instead of industrial estates and ‘Jnctns’ instead of junctions. This is almost like a new language, a code that politicians do not want us to know. Missing out letters in this manner is tantamount to obscuring the truth. By using language in this way Fanthorpe is again showing her dislike of modern society. The simplicity of the structure of this poem, although strange, gives the message a thrusting immediacy, and the closing line ‘(Nt fr lng. Nt fr lng.)’ ends the poem on a pessimistic note, showing recent culture’s addiction to change and progress at the expense of places like Romney Marsh. Fanthorpe uses this poem to protest against the homogenisation of the world. It is possible to argue that this is not a dislike of modern life, but simply Fanthorpe taking a stand on environmental issues.

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‘Last House’ is a poem about an old cinema closing down. It is a nostalgic look at old-fashioned cinemas and the destruction of one in particular, ‘The Regal’. In the opening line, Fanthorpe chooses to write about ‘the beat of destruction’. This is like a drum of war and could also be interpreted as the past being beaten back by the present, as modern society conquers all.

Fanthorpe reminisces about old memories of the picture houses, ‘hi-ho-ing dwarfs, hi-yo-ing cowboys’ and talks of what the cinema taught people, ‘How to sing in the rain’. It is clear that ...

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