How Does Armitage Create an Atmosphere of Detachment in 'Mother, Any Distance'

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How does Armitage create an atmosphere of detachment?

Simon Armitage wrote the poem ‘Mother, any distance greater than a single span’, it suggests a strong theme of detachment throughout. Although a short poem, it holds a lot of meaning that can be interpreted in several different ways.

Firstly, each stanza ends with a position of different height. Beginning ‘floors’ then ‘kite’ and lastly ‘fly’. Each suggest the narrator is moving further away from reality and is distancing themselves from the world, as ‘fly’ shows a clear separation from reality.

The poem is about breaking loose from emotional and physical ties. These ties may also come with psychological damage as shown. The narrative voice of the poem is metaphorically, moving on. He is still tied to his past. The tape measure image suggests the umbilical cord. His mothers’ ‘fingertips still pinch’ showing she is holding him back from this important move and step forward in live. He is trying to lose the need for a maternal bond with his mother, however she isn’t letting go. In this way, Armitage portrays the narrative voice as breaking free and cutting ties to an extent with his parents. This strongly emphasises a theme of detachment.

The stanza length is equal in the first two stanzas, this shows the poet is used to this style, its comfortable and all that he knows. However, this changes in the 3rd and final stanza, where it increases in length, suggesting he is moving away from all that he knows. He is becoming independent and living only for himself. Things are different in his life, he is trying something new which is represented by the increased stanza length.

Armitage uses great imagery in the poem, which suggests the great distance that the son has to travel emotionally to break loose. There are references to “acres”, “prairies”. The space image adds to this. He walks through the empty spaces of his new house. The reference to space walking suggests the distance he has to go. The...
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