The poet narrates a true experience with his own father from when he was a teenager. In the final stanza the poet looks back, aged ‘twenty nine’. The poet marks the time shift by shifting from past into present tense. This poem is a nostalgic look back at a defining moment from Armitage's childhood, his relationship with his father and how he feels about it now.
From the first words of the title, ‘My father’ shows that Armitage’s memory of his childhood, like the poem is dominated, looked over, by his father. The effect is intensified by the fact that the words 'my father' are repeated in the first line.
As a teenager, the poet's father is an authority figure. Armitage calls him ‘father’ which is formal and seems distant, commanding respect. However, his father uses colloquial language ‘lost your head’ ‘easily led’. These proverbial phrases are judgemental and don’t show real communication, which adds to the sense of distance.
However, his son can almost read his father's thoughts, which suggests a kind of closeness: ‘my father thought it bloody queer’. ‘bloody queer’ can’t be the way the poet would describe himself, as it seems too harsh and violent. It seems to fit with the colloquial, judgemental phrases that his father uses. The poet is close enough to his father to be able to 'become' him - for these lines in the poem. ‘queer’ is used to condemn something that doesn’t conform. The whole poem is about rebellion.
The first stanza has a regular rhyme scheme with aabbb; however in the second stanza, the rhyme scheme starts to break down and seems irregular. This echoes the breakdown in authority or control as the poet rebels. In the final stanza, a kind of balance or compromise is reached, the first and last lines rhyme together (12,15), but the middle two are free, or unrhymed (13,14).
The words ‘slept’ and ‘wept’ are rhymed, with ‘wept’ in a prominent position at the end of the stanza, which is also emphasised by the...
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