In The Manhunt, Armitage takes typical blazon love poetry and turns it into a negative, perverse form of blazon poetry through a combination of metaphorical language and language from the semantic field of warfare. The persona speaks in third person which is unusual, and seems to be addressing the reader rather than the subject of the poem.
'After the first phase,
after passionate nights and intimate days,'
The 'first phase' seems to suggest that this 'Manhunt' of trying to find the man that the persona once knew was carried out in a series of phases and that the sexual intimacy in the rebuilding of their relationship was merely only the beginning. This is strange because usually a relationship begins with getting to know each other then having a sexual relationship, but in this poem it seems to be the other way around. As the 'first phase' compromised of 'passionate nights and intimate days'.
'only then would he let me trace
the frozen river that ran through his face,'
'only then' seems to suggest that this 'hunt' was carried out in small steps with the persona's partner's consent 'let me'. The 'frozen river' may be interpreted as scarring from his time in the war, or perhaps even tear tracks to explain the emotional trauma he may be going through and the metaphor used 'frozen river that ran through his face' gives imagery of landscapes, bumpy terrain.
'only then would he let me explore
the blown hinge of his lower jaw,'
Again, the repetition of 'only then would he let me' seems to suggest that the persona is not forcing her way through, but allowing her partner to slowly open up and 'let me'. The verb 'explore' seems very thorough, the persona doesn't want to miss anything. Armitage uses a strong adjective 'blown' to describe the persona's partner's jaw. The 'blown hinge of his lower jaw' seems to be used by Armitage in a figurative way, perhaps showing the 'man's' inability to express his emotions, or perhaps his refusal to speak about them, maybe he wants to lock his feelings away, to forget. Also 'hinge' brings up imagery of doors so if a door has a 'blown hinge' then it would be impossible to open.
'and handle and hold
The damaged, porcelain collar-bone,'
The verbs 'handle and hold' seem to be very gentle, this is due to the alliteration of the soft 'h' sound. The persona gently 'handles and holds' her partner's collar-bone. The metaphorical language of the persona's 'porcelain collar-bone' by Armitage is effective in conveying the persona's care with her partner as 'porcelain' is very delicate and easily 'damaged'. Take notice here that in the first three stanzas, 'phase' and 'days', 'trace' and 'face', 'explore' and 'jaw' Armitage uses rhyming couplets however in this stanza Armitage begins to slowly split off into half rhyme as the persona moves from surface injuries to deeper injuries as the 'collar bone' is inside and cannot be explored from a skin-deep relationship.