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Consider how relationships are presented in Harmonium by Simon Armitage and Praise Song for My Mother by Grace Nichols

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Introduction

Consider how relationships are presented in "Harmonium" by Simon Armitage and "Praise Song for My Mother" by Grace Nichols In both poems, a sense of nostalgia and reminiscence is conveyed; they are written in the past tense which leads to a state of reflection and acknowledgement. As a reader, one can immediately capture this notion, when reading "Praise Song for My Mother", as the title itself has very traditional African connotations - it marks a celebration or tribute of someone's life. Whereas Armitage titles his poem "Harmonium" which is what the poem is physically about but also is symbolic of the relationship between him and his father. Armitage introduces the poem with an anecdote; this evokes a feeling of reminiscence. It contains very physical descriptions - "Shadowy porch of Marsden Church" - this establishes the setting for the reader and perhaps portrays Armitage as being entranced by the church; he appreciates very minute details. However, when describing the "Farrand Chapelette", it was described using the idiom "gathering dust" which has a double meaning - it was physically accumulating dust but also it was coming of age. ...read more.

Middle

Fathoming derives from the Anglo Saxon era and means to embrace - the water embraces many sea creatures and therefore sustains life which is essentially a quality of her mother. But it can also mean to reason out problems - this relates to the idea of a store of knowledge. Armitage gives sunlight agency as it can "beatify saints and raise the dead". This catholic connotation brings about positivity to the church as images of saints are lifted above ordinary people. However, this is contrasted by the destructive power of the sunlight as it weathers the "aged" wooden case of the harmonium and the "fingernails of its key". Armitage personifies the keys to draw a parallel with his dads' "smoker's fingers". Further damage included "one of the notes lost its tongue" which means sound is lost. Armitage then paints an image of a traditional organist who wears "grey, woollen sock". This inspires an idea of how old the harmonium and its battle with time. Armitage describes the motion of pedalling and uses repetition to support the onomatopoeic effect/. Nichols also uses repetition as she starts the second stanza with "You were". ...read more.

Conclusion

As the stanza continues, Armitage makes reference to "father and son" and is talking about him and his father - this increases the feeling of nostalgia as it was him and his father who had sang as choir boys. It is in the fourth stanza where Armitage's emotions become apparent. He makes very delicate comparisons with his father and the harmonium - "dotted thumbs". After this, Armitage how him and his father would "cart it away" - in doing so, the harmonium is described as a valueless item. He personifies the harmonium by describing its "back" similar to how a person would be placed in a coffin. Armitage mentions how his dad belittles his own death. His dad describes his body as "freight" which is monosyllabic and brings heaviness to the comical aspect of his dad. Armitage cannot respond to his dad's cynical humour and has "lost his tongue". This represents the difference in character between the two. In contrast to the sad mood conveyed in "Harmonium", Nichols ends the poem with words of wisdom from her mother - "Go to the wide futures, she said". This reinforces the idea the mother is looking over her and is wise. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ridhwan Ahmed ...read more.

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