Sunday, 20 December 2009

Kid - Simon Armitage

From the first word of the poem we know that there is a connection here with Batman, and reading on we discover that the narrator here is his sidekick, Robin, now grown up and brimming with confidence.

This is a terrifically fast-paced poem, conveying a sense of the energy and exuberance of youth. The repetition of words ending in -er at the end of each of the twenty-four lines adds to the feeling of speed, with one line rushing into the next.

The poem is packed with witty, self-assured language, plays on words that leave us in no doubt that Robin is taking over the major role from Batman. Abandoned by the 'father figure' that he no longer needs, Robin tells us that he has now 'turned the corner'. He doesn't need to play second fiddle any more, as he tells us in line fourteen 'I'm not playing ball boy any longer'. He has cast off his garish green and red clothes and made his own choice of 'jeans and crew-neck jumper'. He paints a sad picture of Batman, now alone or 'without a shadow', with Robin taking over the role of hero: he triumphantly ends the poem with 'now I'm the real boy wonder.'

Taking a closer look at the language, Armitage has made skilful, witty use of imagery in this poem. There is the alliteration of 'let me loose to wander leeward' overlapping the assonance of 'leeward, freely' in lines 2 to 3 and the idiomatic 'let the cat out on that caper' in line 9. The twelfth and thirteenth lines present us with whole strings of hyphenated phrases that seem to rush along at breakneck speed: 'Holy robin-redbreast-nest-egg-shocker!' to describe Robin's reaction to Batman's brief affair with a married woman where he claimed expenses for dating her. The irony here too is the reference to 'robin-redbreast', as it appears that it was Robin himself who exposed Batman's behaviour in this incident.

In lines 20 to 21 we are presented with the image of Batman 'stewing over chicken giblets' – a clever metaphorical play on words, as Robin builds up a pitiful picture of Batman, now a fallen figure, not even having enough to eat, 'punching the palm of your hand all winter'. In the last line he audaciously refers to the formerly revered hero as 'baby' before making his final 'boy wonder' statement.

Armitage shows us here that even a superhero does not prevail for ever; the trusty sidekick grows up, builds up strength and confidence, and is soon ready to take over the leading role. It's a poem that any younger brother or downtrodden son with a domineering father can take inspiration from. Perhaps any hero-worshipping teenager, aspiring to be famous in one way or another, will find a theme to relate to here. As for the heroes themselves, be warned – one day, someone else is going to take over!

No comments:

Post a Comment