The poem is written in a list form, in a nearly list like form, of the career of the narrator in his work life. It’s a cv writing all his experience of work so far. In the poem the person sufferes very much from his/her employer aswell as his own lazyness.
Poem about, as seen in the explanation of the title, the life of a man and all the work he’s ever done. The poem is mostly comprised of a list of employments, which begin as small, trivial, poorly paid jobs, but improve, progressively, through the poem. For example, at the start of the poem the jobs are "shoe-shine" and "gofer", these are physical, practical jobs, which require a low skill level, whilst later in the poem the poet describes work for the police and Prime Minister, these are people with a high status in society. The progression and improvement through the poem is unexpected because it is unusual for someone who has been sacked from a job to get a better one next time, this is perhaps a way of contrasting with the sympathy evoked by the poem as it gives the idea that this man has been given many opportunities at different levels.
The poem’s title, "C.V.", stands for Curriculum Vitae, which is Latin for "the course of life", and is used to describe a person’s educational and employment history. The document is presented to a prospective employer as a self-advertisement. The use of this title for Armitage’s poem is ironic as, although the poem does contain a personal record of education and employment, it is not a positive description and would not give complimentary view of this person’s past.
The form of the poem
11 stanzas and four lines per stanza, though the last line is on its own and stands out.. Each stanza is used to describe a stage in this history and most are finished with a line describing how this came to an end, for example, "fluffed it" and "shown door". This conveys the idea of story telling, each section is individually complete. The way in which it is written is interesting- his abbreviation has the effect of emphasising everything that is said; only the important bits have been left in the poem. The abbreviation also creates a snappy, listing effect – the ideas are reeled off, one by one, without breaks . In this poem, it could be suggested that listing is used to evoke empathy for the poet’s persona.
1) ‘Shoe shine, gofer, caddie, bellboy, three bags full sir, busker, juggler, bookie’s runner, move along there’
Four jobs are described in the second stanza, three of which involve carrying bags: "gofer" "caddie" and "bell boy". This trio and the idea of bag-carrying is continued and combined in the ironic line "three bags full sir", which also is used as a sarcastic comment to a person who is giving commands, in this case the employer, it is a way of saying "I’ll do anything you want me to" and this is true for…