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Importance of Elsewhere by Philip Larkin

Uploaded by Appleman on Jun 09, 2007

The Importance of Elsewhere

The speaker feels lonely and strange in a place that is not his home, “living in Ireland since it was not home”. He has nothing that is familiar to him.

The speaker feels strange and anxious because he is an outsider who doesn’t fit in. the “Strangeness made sense” because he expected to feel this lonely because he is not in the comfort of his own home and is not used to being away from home.

There are constant reminders, in everything he hears. “The salt rebuff of speech” is the different accent that he hears here, it makes him feel uncomfortable because it accentuates his accent, emphasising that he is an outsider and reminds him that he feels lonely.

The speaker gained a feeling of comfort from realising that being an outsider was just a temporary feeling – “Insisting so on difference made me welcome”. He didn’t have to make an effort to fit in. he had a feeling of control because he knew that he would go home, and that allowed him to choose what he did and didn’t like.

His feelings were due to him being a stranger in a strange place. Knowing that he would go home was reassuring. “Once that was recognised,” he reassured himself, feeling “we were in touch.” He was able to then enjoy his time in Ireland.

In the second stanza, the speaker romanticises about the city he is in, and how he could come to be comfortable there. He uses imagery to describe the atmosphere: “draughty streets” referring to the people’s coldness to outsiders. The city is in a valley, and with the “end-on to hills” there is a real sense of community. It is protected from the outside world. The speaker gives the impression that no one visits the “dwindling dockland”. He uses a simile of a “barn” to describe the “archaic smell” that reminds him of an old, dark, damp place that lives inside the musty smell.

There is a depressed feeling to this place, as shown by “the herring hawker” having been personified to a cry. The speaker knows that he would never feel at home here in this community, but he feels that it does have some good qualities. “To prove me separate, not unworkable” shows that he can work here once his feelings of not belonging are put to one side.

The speaker contrasts “their” Ireland and “my” England...

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Uploaded by:   Appleman

Date:   06/09/2007

Category:   Poetry

Length:   2 pages (510 words)

Views:   9493

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