As Hong Kong topographical poetry is often considered a representation of the hectic aspects of an urban lifestyle, readers usually appreciate the poems with a preconceived image of Hong Kong, the city. In contrast to the common approach that regards city as a reflection of ideologies and conflicts, this research takes topographical poetry as lived experiences of poets, in order to probe into a direct and personal realm of humans and place relationship. Hence, theories in the field of human geography which focus on the concept of space and place will be applied to a large extent. As a whole, this thesis argues that a place comes into being only when it is “lived” and endowed with poet’s experience, value and emotion.
Through an in-depth study of topographical poems in three chapters, this thesis sketches the development of the “sense of place” among Hong Kong poets. The analysis of the early twentieth century topographical poetry in Chapter Two shows that the poets tend to keep a far distance from the milieu and hold a visitor’s perspective, and there is a prevalent use of ideology and social criticism. Chapter Three delineates the significant changes topographical poetry has gone through since the 1950s. The slackening of social criticism together with the rise of personal perspectives helps to shape a place vividly in great detail. The close reading of poetry depicting the rural area in Chapter Four reveals the complex nature of the countryside―it is a source of melancholy in the course of development while it also provides spiritual nourishment for city dwellers. Through the analysis of sense of distance, change of perspective, inclusion of details, and engagement of human senses, this thesis figures out the way a solid and sensuous place has gradually emerged in Hong Kong topographical poetry.