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This poem purports to be a contrast between city and country. At first reading, the poem’s speaker seems to be elevating country living above city living. However, the concluding two lines come as a contradiction of this idealization, and for this reason create surprising final twist. The poem’s first eleven lines establish details that support the opening statement that people are “made of places.” Thus, their very outlook on life is conditioned by the areas from which they spend their childhood and adulthood. Even their very thoughts and ways of looking at life are inextricable from their locations. People who work in “chromium-plated offices” assume that it is natural for human existence to take place exclusively in such an environment, just as people riding subways at rush hour accept the premise that life might usually take place where there are always crowds. Interestingly, while most of the details about city life are negative, the poet does include details about tulips and fountains—but these objects of Nature are regulated and organized, and are not growing without human intervention and control.
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