Simon and thievery even for the slightest


Simon Armitage’s poems “Poem” and “About His Person”
convey a struggle of identity through two anonymous male characters through double
meanings, diction and the imagery created through everyday simplicity. Both poems
are similar in many aspects including the anonymity of the dead characters, and
the apparent language used. However, the most significant similarity between the
two poems is the un-answered questions left in the readers mind about the characters’
identity. Whilst “Poem” focuses on the opposing actions of a man, “About His Person”
details the possessions of another man, found on him, at the time of his death.
When comparing the two poems, the similarities and differences Simon Armitage
uses, presents an issue of identity in two very distinctive ways.


Simon Armitage’s use of contrasting
actions within the stanzas found in “Poem” creates a struggle between the
characters two personalities. “Poem” narrates the actions of a man during the
course of his life, as if an obituary that is to be read after his death,
reflecting on his identity.  The first
few lines of each stanza state an action to convey the mans’ caring and compassionate
side, as he does things like “tucked in his daughter and night” “praised his
wife” and “for his mum hired a private nurse” Simon Armitage does this to
illustrate to the reader that the man is fairly normal and kind, which makes
him more relatable for the audience. Yet, in each stanza, the three lines of
goodness are always continued by an action of evil towards those who he cares
about, like abuse and thievery even for the slightest infuriation like
“laughing” or “lying.” Simon Armitage creates this juxtaposition to illustrate
the mans’ struggle with identity as now and then he hints at rather dark, aggressive
traits. Furthermore, by having the sinful action as the last line in each
stanza, it erases all kindness
mentioned as the evil action leaves a more lasting impression upon the reader.

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“About his Person” also written by
Simon Armitage, narrates the possessions found on a man at the time of his
death. The possessions, in the form of a list, include a library card, a
shopping list, spare change and a watch.  Each simple item is followed with detail in adjectives
and verbs to support the double entendre. For example, the watch was described
as ‘analogue, self-winding, stopped.’ This is double entendre as it illustrates
firstly, that the man wore a watch and it had stopped working. But secondly, it
has the inferred meaning that his time alive had run out, i.e. He stopped when
his watch stopped. Simon Armitage, also uses strong diction, so that by the
time the reader has finished the entirety of the list, they can surmise from the
finality of the words such as “stopped, final, beheaded” that the man’s life
has ended. This assumption is further supported by Simon Armitage’s inclusion
of “a final demand” which indicates that the cause of death was suicide, as he
left a note of explanation or instruction. Furthermore, the poem ends with “a
ring of unweathered skin” representing where his wedding ring used to be, which
could mean that the character had either lost or divorced his partner. In addition
to which the statement “that was everything” is also double entendre as it, firstly
signifies the end of the list of his possessions, but furthermore that his
marriage was so important that his whole life was centered around it, and it was
his only reason to live. I.e. his literal “everything.” The loss of his life significance
caused his emotional identity crisis, as he felt he no longer had a motive to


Simon Armitage creates imagery in
both poems, through the use of plain and simple items and actions. These
elements allow the readers to develop an insight to the identity and struggle
of the two dead men. Simple actions like saving money and caring for a mother
from “Poem” and items like a watch and spare change from “About His Person” are
some of the simplest factors for any reader to comprehend. The poet does this
so the reader can easily compose an image of the characters, as the imagery
allows them to draw comparisons with their own life. For example everyone
recognizes the concept of having coins in their pocket, and tucking their children
in at bedtime. Although, Simon Armitage gives no indication of the physical
appearance of the two men, the reader is still able to form a vivid image of
what the characters might the character might look like, or even would have
been like. This is significant as each reader has an individual perception of the
characters identity. This is reflected further by the quote “here’s how they
rated him when they looked back. Sometimes he did this, sometimes he did that.”
This shows how each person (“they”) who had a relationship with the character
in “Poem” had a different experience of the man, depending on how they knew him;
therefore, creating different identities.


Simon Armitage, creates a struggle of
identity in both “poem” and “About his person” through linguistic language like
double entendre, and diction, whilst the use of simple items and actions
creates imagery due to its relatability. These two poems, one as an obituary,
and the other in the form of a postmortem case file, develop identities,
depending on how the reader understands each stanza. These poems may allude to
the fact that although someone may know an individual very well, it is very
difficult to describe them as a character of the past. Death can change the
identity of someone as they become, just like the characters described by the poet,
an anonymous person. 

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