Simon Armitage Essay
Many of the poems explore feelings parents and children have for each other, examine “On My First Sonne” and compare it with two other poems, one by Catherine Anne Duffy and one by Simon Armitage Poems that explore feelings parents and children have for each other are On My First Sonne by Ben Johnson 1616, Kid by Simon Armitage, and Before You Were Mine by Carol Anne Duffy. On My First Sonne is a farthers elegy about his dead son. In it he is saying farewell to his beloved son and trying to a way of coping with all his feelings of pain and grief without showing too much emotion, this poem is him trying to find a way to deal with his pain.
He starts the poem by saying: “Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy… ” This is him being very accepting of what has happened as he uses the phrase “farewell” where he could have used a word of similar meaning like goodbye. Farewell has a different meaning however as it shows the persona felt ready to let his son go whereas to say goodbye is cutting a meeting or time together short. This is slightly ironic as it is his 7 year old son and shows he is trying to put on a front and not showing his true emotion in this poem.
He then goes on to say “my right hand and joy” which shows he expected his son to do so much, like being next in line, that he never got the chance to do. This contradicts his emotions as he said farewell and shows how confused he is and how much he cannot cope with the feelings of grief. This theme is consistent throughout the poem showing a contradiction between what his true feelings are and what he is trying to convince himself to feel like. For example in the first line he is trying to convince himself it was time for his son to die then realises that was not the case at all.
The next couple of line he explains how his child was only lent to him for this short amount of time like a loan and he feels he had to repay his debt. This shows how special his son was to him as he feels he was too special to stay on this world for the same amount of time as most. He is above most and superior to most. He then goes on to explain how man “should envie” the fact that death has come so early. Again this is making his son look superior and better than everybody else. It also gives him something to tell himself, something to cling onto, so he does not fall apart over his death.
He is trying to look for understanding in why his son died so soon. It then goes on to say: “Rest in soft peace” like a grave stone. This is relevant to the poem as a whole which has rhyming couplets throughout. This gives the impression that the poem is a formal one and also resembles what might be written on a grave stone, with a sombre tone and rhyme to make it sincere. There is also a lot of punctuation throughout the poem slowing the poem down which gives a slow pace resembling a funeral march. Kid is a poem about breaking free from guardians and stepping out.
Here Robbin is saying I don’t need to live in your shadow anymore to Batman. It symbolises that those who look after you are not always perfect. Like On My First Sonne it is only one stanza long giving it a rhythm of one long continuous story instead of being broken down into sections. This lets the story flow better and is seen to be only part of a longer story; in this case he is telling what did happen and then what is going to happen, the end of the poem is by no means the end of his story. in On My First Sonne we again only get a part of a longer story however the difference is this is the last stanza of the personas story.
they are similar in that they are both starting over with something new. The difference is the future is bright for Robbin but gloomy for the other. This poem again can be connected to a main theme of the story by the way it is written, like in On My First Sonne it was made to be like a gravestone, this poem is made to be similar to the batman theme tune. This is done by every line ending in er like the tune and there being the same amount of lines as there are “duns” in the theme tune. In this poem it does this to say look I can be as good as you this is what I’m going to be.
In the other poem this may also be the case, he is soon going to be where his son is. The third poem is Before You Were Mine and is similar to On My First Sonne in that it is talking of a loved one as if they were not there any more. It is similar to Kid in the way it talks of the impact of a child on the parent’s life. In this poem she is talking of her mother and her life before she was born, it explores feeling of guilt for being born and tainting her mother’s ambitions and shows how she saw herself as a hindrance, but also shows a great love between the two people.
The love is like in On My First Sonne when the reader is told of the connection and bond between a parent and child. It differs from the other two as it has for stanzas. This makes it set in a longer time scale as she talks of her mother’s life in great detail from times long before she was even born. Putting this in stanza’s gives you the feeling that this story is for sure being carried on the way the reader expects it to as she talks briefly of what happened after her birth.
This gives it a more certain feel, whereas in the other two everything about the future is speculation and has not yet happened, of nothing can the reader be sure. Also in the other two poems the persona is not spilling all their true feelings, in On My First Sonne he never really shows his true pain putting on a front that is occasionally broken like when he says: “O, could I lose all father… ” “For why.. ” Showing somewhere inside him he cannot cope with this at all and is desperately wondering why it has been like this.
In Kid it is clear Robbin is saying he wil be so much bigger and better but the way he tells himself so much that he’s “the real boy wonder” and “I’m taller harder stronger older… ” shows that he needs to tell himself this in order to believe it meaning there are insecurities. Before You Were Mine however is the persona saying exsatly what she thinks of her mother and how guilty she feels about holding her back and as she is saying it so far ahead of when it happened it seems it has been a big issue which she has not been able to talk about in the past.
It shows some feelings and emotions between parents and children cannot be truly expressed without time and in the other two poems not enough time has passed. In On My First Sonne he barely contemplates the thought as it has so recently occurred. In Kid the persona has come a long way to stand up and admit what situation he was in but he is still to accept what has happened without being bitter or having to put on a front to people. Before You Were Mine however shows exactly what the child has thought for a very long time but has only just plucked up the courage to admit this is how she feels.
In conclusion these poems are all similar in the way they talk of family and memories with an air of regret at the way they have acted at some point or other. It shows in all how powerless children are as we see through the eyes of three different personas the struggle that the child has faced, either in the first or the third person. They show how these problems can be dealt with at different stages in life and how much it affects a person.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 27 September 2017