Poetry Essay

Armitage loves creating imagery in his poetry. How effective do you think this is? Choose two or three poems in which you feel imagery helps you understand the poem.

The two poems I have chosen as an example of his work, are, I feel two of the best examples of Armitage's imagery. They are both very different; one deals with hope while the other, the loss of hope; one is progressive while the other is regressive. Yet they have one thing in common, they both use very powerful imagery.

Armitage uses a very effective piece of imagery when telling us about the pigeon spreading its' tail feathers towards him. This is like a magician showing their cards to an audience and inviting them to choose a card. This shows a conflict between fantasy and reality because although the pigeon is real, the idea of it offering a card is fantasy.

This links clearly with the idea of the poem because the fact that the poet can see again has made everything that he does see more wonderful and more amazing that it really is; a fantasy world. This adds to our understanding of the poem and the effect of new sight to the poet.

"A pigeon in the yard turns tail

and offers me a card. Any card."

Another very good example of Armitage's imagery is shown in the first two lines of the poem. He is saying that the sun is like a persons head as they pull a turtleneck jumper over it; an unusual simile. This could also paint the picture of the sun rising, creating the new dawn, symbolising his new sight. The imagery is of him moving from darkness into light, almost as if he is being re-born. The turtleneck could also represent a struggle between his fear of staying in the dark and his fear of having to have an operation to renew his sight.

"The sun comes like a head

through last nights turtleneck."

The imagery of the clothing also helps us to understand the poem.

"From pillar to post; a pantomime

of damp forgotten washing"

The washing he sees now is particularly brightly coloured as most pantomime costumes are. The joy of new sight brings things to life the clothes on the washing line, which had been "damp, forgotten washing". The reality of the washing is dull but he is creating a fantasy which is what a pantomime really is. There are many examples of fantasy and reality alongside each other in this poem.
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In the next line the clothing really comes to life. Armitage describes a towel flapping in the wind, but really brings it beyond that by adding in two words, and suddenly the towel is being flapped at a bull by a matador in joyful defiance of danger and the once boring towel becomes the focal point in a huge scene of excitement and risk. By just adding two words Armitage has created amazing imagery in just one line, which helps us to understand the poem because we can imagine the arena and the hype of the matador. In ...

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