The poem 'Mother, any distance', by Simon Armitage is from a
collection of poems titled 'Book of Matches'; it is meant to be read
in the time it takes a match to burn, and thus cannot be very long.
The poem is written in the first person, though it is not specific as
to whether it is from the perspective of a man or woman, which indeed
could be a result of deliberate ambiguity, or alternatively, it could
be Simon Armitage himself. The speaker, apparently in a house he or
she is about to move into, is measuring 'windows, pelmets, doors' with
their mother, who has 'come to help' as they need 'a second pair of
hands'. The technique of enjambment is used throughout the poem, and
rhyming couplets appear in the third and fourth lines of the first
stanza; 'doors' and 'floors'.
A sense of adventure is evoked in the last line of the first stanza,
with descriptions of seemingly normal and unremarkable things such as
'walls' and 'floors' including adjectives such as 'acres' and
'prairies'; this is also where the poem departs from direct reality.
These images of vast space indicate the speaker's excitement of
leaving home, and it is here that the theme of change is first
addressed within the poem. While the speaker's mother stands in the
same place holding one end of the measuring tape 'recording length',
i.e. taking responsibility, the speaker explores the house, 'reporting
metres'. Here the speaker is made to still seem very young and not
used to becoming completely independent, and is not completely sure of
themselves; 'back to base', showing that they still return to their
mother to make sure what they have done is r...
... middle of paper ...
...- 'Young...their bed'. By the time her work
is done, 'stars areâ€¦peep', showing how long she toils. The fire she
lights begins as a 'seed' in the morning, consequently growing, and at
the end of the day, 'the seedâ€¦and cold'. This could be a metaphor for
the loss of energy associated with old age.
All four poems address different forms of loss and change, and explore
them in different ways, and thus contrast to one another in different
ways. In particular 'On my first Sonne' addresses the emotions related
to loss, whereas 'Before You Were Mine' explores the physical aspect
of change by switching through tenses. Some contain similarities, such
as 'Mother, any distanceâ€¦' and 'The Song of the Old Mother' in the way
they address age, but all use different techniques in the way they
explore the themes mentioned above.
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