relationships cluster of poems

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THE MANHUNT Simon Armitage
· The Manhunt is written from the perspective of the wife of a soldier who has sustained
serious injuries at war and has returned home. The poem explores the physical and mental
effects of living with injuries sustained when on active service in the armed forces.
The Manhunt is about the patience and care of love. The wife in the poem is methodical and thorough
in her search, exploring her husband's injured body with love and care. The poem also explores the
cost of war on those serving in the armed forces. The man has a ""grazed heart"", perhaps literally
from an injury caused by ""the metal beneath his chest"", but also metaphorically. He is unable to
connect with his wife, unwilling to speak of his experiences, and so their loving relationship is
affected. The image of the metal bullet still inside him as a ""foetus"" suggests that, like having a
baby, the couple's relationship will be forever changed by what he has gone through.
Lines 23 and 24 present the metaphor of ""a sweating, unexploded mine buried deep in his mind"".
The source of the problem is not physical but mental, and threatens to cause problems at any time.
The importance of the wife's care and delicacy is highlighted by her discovery of this problem.
The poem is not about judging the rights and wrongs of war, but the impact of war on one particular
relationship. This is made clear in the final line of the poem: ""Then, and only then, did I come close"".
Her search is not fully successful, she only comes ""close"", and only after she realises that her
husband's problems lie as much in memories of his experiences as they do in his physical scars.
The poem is made up of a series of couplets, mostly unrhymed. This creates a sense of
fragmentation, which matches the feelings of the soldier's wife as she seeks to understand the man
her husband has become.
The poem describes the phases of a wife's search for answers from her injured husband who has
recently returned from a war zone. The poem ends when the search is brought to a close.
The title puns on the idea of the 'manhunt', meaning literally a hunt to capture a man, often a
criminal. Here the wife's search is for the husband she knew so well but who seems lost to
her, metaphorically, after his experiences at war.
Many of the first lines of the couplets have prominent verbs, reflecting the activities of the
wife as she conducts her ""search"". Words and phrases like ""explore"", ""handle and
hold"", ""mind and attend"" are all references to careful treatment of her husband's injured
body, as well as suggesting her patient care for his mental state.
The speaker refers to parts of the husband's body metaphorically, comparing them to
inanimate objects rather than to living things. His jaw is a ""blown hinge"", suggesting that he
is no longer open to her, perhaps unable to talk of his feelings and experiences. His collar
bone is ""damaged, porcelain"", a metaphor that brings to mind something hard but also
easily chipped and cold, a reminder of the ""frozen river which ran through his face"".
There are lots of sensual, loving verbs in the poem, reflecting the intimacy of husband and
wife, and keen devotion from the wife hoping to heal her husband. The wife says that she is
able to ""climb the rungs of his broken ribs"", a closely observed detail of her hands

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The idea of the ladder is reflective of the
effort involved in the wife's gradual search for answers.
In Paris with You The male speaker in the poem In Paris with You is unwilling to discuss his
experiences of the past, instead he is keen to focus on the present. The husband in The Manhunt is
similarly closed on the subject of the past.…read more

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The traditional territory of lovers (""Flowers"" and ""wine"") is replaced by alternatives: for
example, ""a grass ditch"" is an improbable romantic location. There is simplicity and
perfection to ""the whole of the summer sky"", an image rich in meaning, a visual feast for a
loving couple lying down together and looking up. They enjoy the ""Midas light"". (Midas was
the mythical king whose touch turned things to gold.)
· As the poem's title suggests, time is an important consideration for the lovers.…read more

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Born Yesterday, Hour
· The poem compares well to Born Yesterday in that each poem rejects traditional ideas.
Hour is also about a relationship blossoming in ordinary settings, focusing on the preciousness of the
present time rather than the past and future.
QUICKDRAW Carol-Ann Duffy
Quickdraw is a one-sided snapshot of a relationship. The speaker of the poem is waiting for contact from
her lover. The context of the relationship is unclear, and we do not know if the speaker welcomes contact or
not.…read more

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The poem also makes use of intimate physical words and phrases, suggesting genuine closeness
between the two lovers: ""In my ear"", ""hear me groan"", ""tongue"", ""heart"", ""Down on my
knees, I fumble"" and ""kiss"".
Like Quickdraw, Nettles makes use of imagery from a different context to bring
significance to seemingly everyday circumstances.
Sister Maude
Sister Maude also presents the idea of conflict and violence in a relationship but
between sisters rather than lovers.…read more

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BROTHERS Andrew Forster
The poem Brothers is about a boy spending an afternoon with his younger brother and his friend, and explores the
relationship between siblings. It is written from an adult perspective but considers the feelings of the older brother
who thinks of his younger brother as an inconvenience.…read more

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· The poem does not use rhyme or have a strict pattern to its rhythm. This is typical of modern poetry.
· There are three stanzas; they recount three stages of the afternoon. The first stanza sets the scene,
showing the relationship between the speaker and his brother as well as the speaker and his friend. The
second stanza presents the disruption to plans for the afternoon (because the younger brother doesn't
have his bus fare).…read more

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The title of this poem makes clear its subject. A praise song is a traditional form from many African cultures
and is often sung rather than being written down. This poem is a child's celebration of her mother, explaining
her qualities and the ways in which she has helped her daughter.
· The poem is based around the first three stanzas of three lines each, which are very similar in
format.…read more

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· The first four stanzas all end with a verb (""fathoming"", ""mantling"", ""streaming"" and
""replenishing""), indicating that the speaker sees the mother as active. She is described as
always doing things.…read more


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