Kid - The poem is a dramatic monologue by Robin the Boy Wonder, the loyal sidekick to Batman in the comic strips, television programmes and films.

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The poem is a dramatic monologue by Robin the Boy Wonder, the loyal sidekick to Batman in the comic strips, television programmes and films. Robin talks about how he has separated from Batman and is learning to lead his own, independent life. In the process he publicises some of Batman's secrets so that we see the 'superhero' in a new light. Robin ends up stronger and more mature. The poem is often humorous but has a serious message too.


The poem consists of a single stanza of 24 lines. The lines are pentameters (they have 10 syllables each).


Think about how the language the poet uses helps to convey his ideas. Here are some points to consider:

  • Think about the title. It does not tell us anything about Batman and Robin - it's only when we begin to read the poem that the identity of the 'kid' becomes clear. However, if we go back to the title having read the poem, it may remind us of other young people who are caught up in the shadow (line 20) of someone they admire, and their need to forge their own identity.
  • Batman is at first presented as a real superhero: he is described at the start in the alliterative phrase Batman, big shot, as someone who gives orders to Robin. Yet as we read on, his status is diminished. We hear that he ditched (line 4) Robin and had an affair with a married woman (line 10). We see him at the end all alone, cooking an unappealing meal for himself (chicken giblets in the pressure cooker (line 21), with next to nothing (line 22) in the house to eat. Can it be that he cannot manage by himself, without Robin around? He is shown as anxious to get going, punching the palm of [his] hand (line 23) with boredom, but unable to do anything.
  • This poem contains various examples of slang, for example naval slang - wander leeward (line 2), British slang - the ordinary word motor (line 11) for the amazing Bat mobile, and American slang - baby (line 24). The mixture of styles adds humour and perhaps helps to illustrate the growing-up process: Robin is trying out a mixture of things.
  • - There is a serious message behind the comedy - we are encouraged to consider whether heroes and hero-worship can really sustain young people growing up. However marvellous the admired person may be, a young person has to learn to be independent - taller, harder, stronger, older (line 18) and to live their own life.

Imagery and Sound

Armitage uses a range of everyday metaphors to describe the parts of his body, all of them highly unscientific! He includes references to:

  • food: jellies and ... syrups (line 3), the loaf of brains(line 4), a gallon exactly of bilberry soup (line 6)
  • a workshop: tubes and ... glues (line 3), the chassis (line 7). This emphasises how 'ordinary' his body is.
  • repairs: fillings and stitches and wounds (line5). This body is not perfect - it has been repaired as and where necessary and the scars still show.
  • a clock: the whole of the last six lines of the poem develop an extended metaphor of the heart being a clock. This is particularly effective since some parts of a clock are named after parts of the body - face, hands (line 12) and the heart is often referred to in slang as a ticker, which Armitage capitalises on in line 13. The pendulum of a clock, like the heart in a body, is what keeps it going. If the pendulum stops, the clock stops; if the heart stops, you die.
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Interestingly, Armitage cannot make up his mind which metaphor to use to describe the ribcage - it is the chassis or cage or cathedral of bone (line 7). The alliteration links these otherwise very separate objects, which suggest that Armitage is weighing up the functions of the body. Is it a chassis - the strong frame of a vehicle that we use to power us; a cage - a structure which keeps the heart safe but in which we are imprisoned; or a cathedral, reminding us of the spiritual aspect of life (as in the biblical phrase 'Your body is the temple of ...

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