For homework, I would like you to read the poem below and offer interpretations of it. Remember the assessment criteria for unseen poetry:
How does Simon Armitage present ideas in this poem:
I am very bothered when I think
of the bad things I have done in my life.
Not least that time in the chemistry lab
when I held a pair of scissors by the blades
and played the handles
in the naked lilac flame of the Bunsen burner;
then called your name, and handed them over.
O the unrivalled stench of branded skin
as you slipped your thumb and middle finger in,
then couldn’t shake off the two burning rings. Marked,
the doctor said, for eternity.
Don’t believe me, please, if I say
that was just my butterfingered way, at thirteen,
of asking you if you would marry me.
the poem starts off with a large stanza and then reduces in size going down, this shows that simon wanted to reduce the content and become more direct at the sinister part to highlight the danger and how small mischievous pranks turned out to become dangerous for someone else
Nice exploration of structure, Dina!
The successive visual reduction in stanza length per stanzas, highlights how the voice created by Armitage is endeavouring to come to a revelation of his misdeeds. This reduction is significant, as the persona matures in their realisation of what they have done. This is clearly seen the style of writing which progresses from an immature and childish style, to a more matured and assured tone towards the end. The lack of enjambment between each stanza is indicative of this, as the drastic variation between the ideas of each stanza, although the ideas seem to show a visual linkage in the imagery used, is made more apparent.
Great insight in structure, Dhaval!
Does anyone want to tackle language/word choices?
The language is very basic for a Simon Amirtage poem and can be easily comprehended,from this we could infer that the character is guilty as the character in the poem does not speak in an intellectual way- this also shows the immaturity and childish style as Dhaval previously mentioned,words like(blade),(scissors) and(burner) shows the reader that the poet is trying to portray signs of danger and signs of this character being slight nuts as the imagery used gives us a sense of someone doing something they don’t really understand them selves supported by the words “don’t believe if i ” and (thirteen) and the fact the the last line talks about marriage at this very young age ,As a reader just these few words makes us think childish ,immature, naive and insecure.The language/word choices have been carefully addressed by the poet to present the ideas listed above. As Dina mentioned that the content is reduced in order to get straight to the more sinister side of things highlighting the immaturity and its consequences and how it resulted at the ended as it effected the other character briefly mentioned at the very last few words of the poem.
Very extended commentary, Imran! Well done!
ANALYSIS FROM DARSHAN:
Armitage here is exploring ideas from a child-like point of view. The most obvious indication that the reader gets from the poem about the narrator’s age is that he states the narrator was ‘thirteen so we do understand that this sort of mischievous boy would have performed these actions.
However, we do get an innocent side of the speaker when he says that it was only a ‘butterfingered’ way of proposing. Humour exudes from the last stanza, but also we do give the speaker some sympathy as the actions seem ‘cute’ as well.
This poem written by Simon Armitage is a sonnet however line 8 is negative and not very romantic. Alliteration is used in line 6 ‘Bunsen Burner’ when read aloud it has a rough sound. Armitage also uses imagery in this poem he uses our sense of smell, touch, sight and hearing.
You’ve made some thoughtful comments Misha!