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‘Harmonium’ and ‘Manhunt’ Essay

The speaker’s attitude towards his father in ‘Harmonium’ is honest and realistic. The speaker names the brand of his organ “Farrand Chapelette” and he names places such as ‘Marsden’ in Yorkshire possibly having a connection of where he and his father grew up. This makes the poem a lot more personnel and therefore the poet manages to gain sympathy from the reader. The use of honesty makes the poem a lot more sentimental whereas in ‘Manhunt’ the wife keeps their background quite discrete. Although the poem does explore the physical and mental effects of dealing with war injuries, it doesn’t include the wars in which he’s participated in and any other personnel information. The poem ‘Manhunt’ is a lot less specific than ‘Harmonium’, which makes it relevant to many other war victims. The husband in Manhunt is not open to his experiences of the past.

The speaker in ‘Harmonium’ uses colloquial language to create a friendly, warm, conversational tone. In ‘Harmonium’ Simon Armitage uses language like “bundled off to the skip” to try and say that the Harmonium is broken. In the poem Manhunt the speaker uses a more compassionate tone, which makes the poem touching. This is created when she unravels the list of her husband’s injuries with each injury getting worse and more heart-breaking.

Both of the poems use imagery to convey their feeling to their loved ones through images. In the poem ‘Harmonium’ the speaker’s father is portrayed as a broken ‘Harmonium’, which helps the reader visualize the physical and mental state of the child’s father. In the poem ‘Manhunt’ the husband is continuously referred to images reflecting his health. He is described as having a ‘fetus of metal beneath his chest’ giving the reader a visual image of the metal bullet buried beneath his skin.

In the poem ‘Harmonium’ Simon Armitage uses parallelism to intensify the relationship between father and son. He does this by repeating ‘and he, being him….and I, being me” this shows how the son will take the place of his father as time goes on. However in the poem ‘the Manhunt’ the speaker links herself to her husband. Her husband is described as being the victim of a Manhunt and the poem explains how she is trying to regain her husband’s trust and confidence the idea that the husband is involved with this Manhunt is repeater throughout the poem. The wife is described as ‘widening her search’ to regain her husband; this links to the title ‘Manhunt’.

In the poem ‘The Manhunt’ the speaker uses lots of sensational, loving verbs in the poem, reflecting the intimacy of husband and wife, and keen devotion from the wife hoping to heal her husband. The wife says that she is able to ‘climb the rungs of his broken ribs’, a closely observed detail of her hands exploring the altered body of her husband. The idea of the ladder is reflective of the effort involved in the wife’s gradual search for answers. This demonstrates the wife’s confidence when she speaks. However, in ‘Harmonium’ the speaker uses indefinite descriptions such as ‘shallow or sorry’ and ‘phrase or word’; this shows that the speaker is not very comfortable and confident about talking about his father, this suggests that he might be regretful or resentful of his past decisions. The writer feels inadequate.

The poem ‘Harmonium’ has four stanzas of different lengths. The first stanza describes the harmonium ready to be throwed away. The next is a closer investigation of the instrument, with detailed descriptions of its parts. The third stanza considers the history of the instrument. The final stanza, which describes carrying the harmonium from the church, is concerned with the relationship between the speaker and his father. However in ‘The Manhunt’; the poem consists of a series of unrhymed couplets. This creates a sense of fragmentation, which matches the feelings of the soldier’s wife as she try’s to understand the man her husband has become. The poem describes the phases of a wife’s search for answers from her injured husband who has recently returned from a war zone. The poem ends when the search is closed. In conclusion the speaker’s attitudes in both poems are quite similar since they are both by Simon Armitage however the speaker in ‘Harmonium’ takes a more honest and realistic approach with a colloquial tone than the discrete, unspecific, compassionate speaker in ‘The Manhunt’.

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