Simon Armitage was born in 1963 in West Yorkshire, where he still lives. His poetry demonstrates a strong concern for social issues, as well as drawing on his Yorkshire roots. Armitage is often noted for his "ear" - holding a strong sense of rhythm and metre.
Simon Armitage uses colloquial (everyday, informal) language and autobiographical material. He has worked on several television programmes including a documentary on permanently injured soldiers and their lives. This poem was first broadcast as part of that documentary.
The Manhunt is written from the POV of the wife of a soldier who has serious injuries from the war and has returned home. The poem explores the physical and mental effects of living with these serious injuries.
The poem is made up of mostly un-rhyming couplets. This creates a sense of fragmentation which links to the feelings of the soldier’s wife as she tries to understand what her husband has become.
The poem ends when the search is brought to a close.
The title puns on the idea of the ‘manhunt’. The wife’s is ‘hunting’/searching for the husband she used to know but who seems to be lost metaphorically after his war experience.
Lots of the first lines of the couplets have noticeable 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 her careful touch to her husband's injured body, as well as suggesting her patient care for his mental state.
The wife compares her husband’s body to inanimate thing rather than 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 makes you imagine something easily chipped and cold.
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