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  • Brothers
    • Content: Narrator recalls a memory from childhood where he abandoned younger brother and emotional result.
    • Form: Narrative, free verse = every day spoken English.
    • Structure: Stanza 1 - brothers together. Stanza 2 - physically apart. Stanza 3 - emotionally distant.
    • Language: Youth, sport, maturity.
    • Themes: Family relationships (Sister Maude), childhood incidents (Nettles).
    • The poem does not use rhyme or have a strict pattern to its rhythm. This is typical of modern poetry.
    • "Saddled" suggests the negative feelings the speaker has for his brother, as if he is an inconvenience, restricting the freedom of the speaker.
    • In the first stanza the speaker and his friend "ambled", "talking" as they went, whereas the younger brother "skipped" and was "spouting six-year-old views". The enthusiastic spirit of the younger brother reflects his pride and excitement at being with the older brother he clearly worships. This continues in the second stanza: "sighed" and "stroll" contrast with "windmilled", a metaphor full of the energy. The older children lack the outward enthusiasm of the younger boy, but then they are "doing what grown-ups do".
    • In line 9 the speaker sees age as an advantage: "His smile, like mine, said I was nine and he was ten". The speaker is reflecting the naively superior feelings of the older boys. The shared smile also hints at their close friendship, an intimacy which is craved by the younger brother but will be denied him because of the "distance" between the brothers.
    • Nostalgic sombre
    • "I ran on, unable to close the distance I'd set in motion". It seems that the younger boy will miss the bus and so be separated from the brother he wants to be like and be with. The older boy is probably relieved not to be "saddled" with him any more. However, "looking back" at the image of brothers separated by a distance - in age and time - is a cause for sadness.
    • Comparisons: Brothers explores the relationship between siblings and the way in which time inevitably - and regrettably - separates them. There is affection between the brothers, particularly in the adoration of the younger boy. In Sister Maude a much more destructive relationship between siblings is presented. Like Brothers, this poem hints at the way in which the move towards adulthood brings a distance between siblings.
      • Harmonium has a similarly nostalgic tone, using a moment from the past to closely explore a family relationship (a son's feelings for his father). But Brothers seems more regretful in tone. Both poems use apparently insignificant events to illuminate a relationship.


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