“Strongman” by Tony Curtis is a sonnet, expressing intense emotion. The poem begins in a very conversational manor. “A strongman you say” Shows this, by casually addressing the reader as if part of a conversation. This gives the impression that the writer is talking to the reader directly, almost as if the writer is talking of something personal to him. In the octet, many references to wood are appropriately made, as Curtis’ father is mentioned as being a carpenter. Curtis included these to represent his fathers career. Imagery is used to demonstrate his fathers ‘chest like a barrel’, and ‘neck that was like holding onto a tree.’ Similes are also used to display these.
The poem describes Curtis’ father as being an extremely physically strong man, who could ‘punch nails into wood with a clenched fist’. This is obviously not a realistic picture, but it is clear that Curtis admired his father in this aspect. The poem also describes how, when his father came home from work he would ‘stretch his arms, and hang the five sons from them, turning like a roundabout.’ This suggests that despite being a hard-working man, he still had time to pay attention to his children, which is respectable. He seems like a hard-working family man, and a lot of fun.
The poem being separated into two indicates change of direction. In the sestet, there is a sudden change in emotion. The first line, ‘the final hour’, immediately shows this. The father is now dying. Weak. ‘Your hands between the sheets’ indicates that the father is in a bed, suggesting restricted physical movement, unlike before. There is then a role reversal, as the son is lifting the fat...
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...tis still expresses intense emotion until the bitter end, using emotional language.
Both poems are set in the past, and both fathers are manual labourers, which the poets admired as a child. Both poems indicate intense change in their fathers lives, that affected the poet in a drastic way. Role reversal between father and son is evident, and a change of emotion is present. These are some of the re-occurring themes in both poems. Both poems in effect deal with the loss of a loved one; whether it be physically or mentally.
“Strongman” simply describes the father figure in an admirable way to emphasise his skill, whereas “Follower” describes the child trying to emulate the father completely, feeling shadowed by his superiority. Both poems express a very close relationship between father and son, although towards the end of both poems there is change of emotion.
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