'Remains by Armitage

  • Created by: sp.15
  • Created on: 14-12-19 11:33
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  • 'Remains' by Armitage
    • Ideas about power and conflict
      • A group of soldiers shoot dead a bank robber after the conflict in Iraq.
      • The robber may not have been armed; the poem raises questions about the power that the group of soldiers (including the speaker) has.
      • The speaker "remains" haunted by the death - the conflict has power over him.
    • Context
      • The speaker is a soldier who has served in Iraq
      • After the conflict in Iraq, soldiers from Britain and America remained in the country.
      • The soldiers had to act as a kind of police force to keep law and order.
      • In the poem, people are raiding a bank; the speaker has to "tackle" them.
    • Language
      • The death is described in graphic detail, which explains why the soldier can't get it out of his head: "rips through his life", "sort of inside out", "tosses his guts"
      • Imagery shows lasting effect on the speaker: "blood-shadow", "here in my head"
      • The tone is chatty, conversationa-l: "well...", "i swear", "so we've..."
    • Form
      • A dramatic monologue: Armitage creates a voice for this soldier who tells a story.
      • The last stanza breaks the pattern of quatrains (four line stanzas) - suggests the power of the the memory that "remains": "bloody life in my bloody hands"
      • Starts off in  first person plural ("we"); soon turns into "i" - sounds like a confession.
      • Could be the soldier talking to a counsellor.
    • Structure
      • Starts as a casual anecdote, one of many stories: "on another occasion..."
      • The fifth stanza is a turning point: "end of story, except not really." After this, the speaker reveals the memory that "remains" - it's traumatic, more than just a story.
      • Repetition of "bloody" in the last line emphasises the guilt he feels.
      • Caesura in line 20 before "but i blink" creates pause before the guilty memory.
    • Quotations to learn
      • "on another occasion"
      • "end of story, except not really"
      • "blood-shadow"
      • "his bloody life in my bloody hands"


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