Location by Arthur Yap is a two stanza free verse poem about being rooted and stationary in a mundane routine. The narrator of the poem is stuck in a village he feels has no life and watches it continue to be the same on a daily basis for years. He does wish that he could be a part of something bigger, better or more lively but he doesn’t make any changes to make that happen. It is almost as if he is sucked in to the cycle of continuous routine and predictability without the will to change his situation. You can read the poem here.
The first stanza of this poem introduces the very frozen situation of the character. The first line itself gives the reader context; the village is introduced as “still” being there. By using the word still Yap is associating the concept of time and permanence to the village. the reader never having any connection to this village now has a sense of understanding that it is packed with history, culture and life that continues without anyone’s control, it is unwavering and consistent in its existence. Line two starts to suggest a negative relationship between the narrator and the village as he complains about the lack of change in village. The line is very short and simple, but it holds such a heavy weight; the reader can almost feel the burden of monotony the narrator endures on a daily basis due to the lack change he has been experience in his village. Moving on to line three it becomes obvious that the character is exhausted and frustrated by his situation. This line also exposes to the reader that the character has spent much of his time thinking about his monotonous life and has come to a conclusion. The third line is also the beginning of a confession that leaks into the next few lines. The next three lines conclude this stanza, and they do so with a realization, conclusion and confession all rolled into one thought; that if he stays in this village he will be left there forever a part of the unchanging village, swallowed by its routine existence. It is quite apparent that the narrator desires more to life than his location is offering him. He feels stuck and knows that if he doesn’t actually do something about it, he will be in this village for whatever time he has left to live; eventually freezing himself as a part of the wearisome cycle of unwavering routine that the village is.
The second and final stanza of this poem discloses the rest of the narrator’s thoughts and emotions regarding his life in the village; it also informs the reader why he finds the lack of change to be such a negative reality.
Line seven opens the second stanza with the mentioning of the village and again, pointing out that it is “still here”. The repetition of the words “still here” in the opening of both stanzas stresses the idea of permanence that the character is quite fed up with. it is evident that the narrator wants the readers to properly understand the long term, steady existence of this village because it is the root of his complaints.
Lines eight and nine further express his dissatisfaction in the way of life in the village as he describes the most obvious thing that some things remain while others pass through. These lines also enlighten the reader about the fact that nothing actually happens in this village. Most people would assume that any location that has permanent residences would be bustling with life. This specific description of the village denotes that nothing really happens, people live their quiet lives in a continuous routine and that is the most the village residents are interested in doing.
Line ten probably gives away the most about the narrator’s perspective; he views the life in the village as “tired”. It must be taken into consideration that as readers we are experiencing the village through the narrator’s words which are heavily biased. It makes sense that he finds things to be tired because he himself is bored of all that surrounds him.
Lines eleven and twelve mention bicycles going in and out of the village; the interesting thing to note is the narrator mentions bikes coming in but “clean bicycles departing”, emphasizing that they are cleaned during their passage through the village. The image of the clean bikes leaving portrays that the narrator’s location seems to be of one where people go for some routine or order to “clean” up their acts and then carry on with their lives. The problem with this is that the narrator can’t seem to move on because he has been nowhere but this village of his, where he feels stuck.
Lines thirteen to seventeen discuss the people who are traveling through the village. The character goes on tangents counting the people who pass through the village claiming that if they are less than before, do not look to the past as those people are essentially identities that have already passed by. This is an interesting set of lines as it exposes the character’s thought process on the topic of looking back. The narrator doesn’t seem to take any particular interest in glancing at the past and seems to suggest that it is a waste of time, as what has gone has its own place that can’t be altered now; it has become a permanent part of an ongoing story. So what would be the point in looking at it?
Lines nineteen and twenty underline the narrator’s point by stating that things will continue to happen and then quickly become the past. Every year that has passed has added a year of permanence into someone’s life story because no one has the ability to go back and change what has happened in their past.
Lines twenty one to twenty six not only conclude the poem but also bring the narrator’s character into the poem and the narrative. He focuses on people like himself who are not pasing through the village but hoping and wishing to move on by stating that they are the bicycle that is “leaning on the grass/neither tired or cleaned”. Describing his stationary life as a non tired and unclean bike, he is implying that even though his ambitions and have not tired out he hasn’t made the move “clean” up his act, put his life together and move on out of the village that he has grown to dislike.
Lines twenty four and twenty five inform the reader that the narrator is mentally and perhaps physically in a place of “resting” as he tries to build up his courage to leave behind his everyday routine and try something new, the new that he so desperately craves. The word “sufficiently” throws the reader off as we would expect that the narrator is resting in anxiety or unease bursting to leave, but he is portraying his resting to be sufficient, proper, enough for him. This leads readers into second guessing his intent, does the narrator truly want to leave and experience new things in life or is he happy with just having the desire for more?
The poem concludes with line twenty six stating that his sufficient resting “makes no sense at all”; which stands true because if he truly loathes his monotonous life then why would he be happy living it every day. Yet, there he is, still there, in that village that continues to exist with him, everyday of his life. By leaving the end of the poem in such confusion, Yap really emphasizes the confusion the character us feeling, he wants more to life than what he has but the location just has such a hold on him that is happy just to wish for more while physically trapped in the permanent monotonous routine of his village.