A Short Analysis of Simon Armitage’s ‘Poem’

A reading of one of his best poems

Everything about ‘Poem’ by Simon Armitage is understated. It opens with a casual ‘And’ (‘And if it snowed’), as if merely a continuation of something already in progress. It has an ‘anti-title’ which refuses to comment on the content of the poem that follows. (Armitage is fond of using such titles.) Its lines are all end-stopped with a full stop, suggesting a flatness of expression. Yet there is more to it than might first meet the eye. In this post, we’re going to offer some words towards an analysis of Armitage’s ‘Poem’, which you can read here.

‘Poem’ is a sort of obituary for an anonymous man – we know it’s an obituary because he is referred to in the past tense and is being ‘rated’ by people at the end of the poem, as if they are seeking to assess his whole life. The poem notes the different sides to the man’s personality. The fourth, eighth, and twelfth lines provide an insight into the darker and less pleasant side of the man, while the rest of the poem – or those first twelve lines, anyway – describe the good things he did. When it snowed, he would go out with a spade and clear the driveway. He was an attentive father, tucking his daughter up in bed every night. His daughter was clearly a good child, as she only ever lied ‘one time’, we are told; but he beat her with a slipper for this single transgression.

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D. R. Geraint Jones, ‘Let Me Not See Old Age’

A moving poem by a largely forgotten WWII poet

In the latest post for our occasional series on neglected poems (see Anna Seward’s brilliant poem ‘An Old Cat’s Dying Soliloquy’ for a previous title in the series), we thought we’d share with you this little-known poem written by a young Welsh poet, David Rhys Geraint Jones, during the Second World War. ‘Let Me Not See Old Age’ (sometimes known by the alternative title ‘A Wish’) was written in spring 1944, not long before Jones’s untimely death in action during the War, in Normandy in June 1944. Jones was just 22 years old, and so – assuming the poem expresses the poet’s own wishes – his entreaty, ‘Let me not see old age’, was honoured. ‘Live fast, die young’, as the rock star’s later motto has it. Not much else is known about D. R. Geraint Jones, so we would welcome further information from anyone who does know more about him.

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The Advent Calendar of Literature: Day 13

In yesterday’s advent calendar post, we shared a little fact related to an enduring Christmas carol. Today, another carol-related fact – though this time, involving one of the Victorian era’s leading poets. Christina Rossetti (1830-94), the prolific Victorian poet, is perhaps most famous for writing ‘Goblin Market’. Except that that isn’t her most famous poem. … Read more

Guest Blog: ‘The Raven’ – Nevermore

By Eric Nicholson Edgar Allan Poe wrote an essay, ‘The Philosophy of Composition’, in which he details the writing of his sensational poem ‘The Raven’. If we are to believe the account, he carefully planned the theme, the setting, the metre and every poetic effect – ‘each step with the precision of a mathematical problem’. … Read more