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Comparison between “Mother Any Distance” and “Walking away”

The two poems, “Mother, any distance” and “Walking Away” both represent the human concern of growing up and gaining independence. These poems show the strong family bonds between the father and the son, in “Walking away” and the mother and the son in “Mother, any distance” and how parting away is sorrowful and traumatic. Having these similarities, however this poem is however written by different perspectives.

The poem, “Mother, any distance” is written from a perspective of a child, who is just about to gain his independence and move out. This poem is written by Simon Armitage. He wrote this poem when he was feeling homesick at Portsmouth University-then he went away to live nearer to his mother. This poem is written in the form of a loosely based sonnet to highlight his potent love for his mother. Furthermore, the poet uses an AABB rhyme scheme which starts to fade away towards the end as the son starts to move away from the mother and then towards the end it takes the rhyme scheme again suggesting a possible reunion. This poem presents positive feelings towards growing up and a mutual understanding between the mother and son that it is necessary. These feelings are presented by Armitage through the use of a structural technique called a focus shift: the poem is made up of three stanzas which start out with, “Mother”, “You” and “My” respectively. This progression from the focus being on his mother to being on himself, over time represents how he is becoming less dependent on her. This progression is not negative; in this poem it is simply shown to be natural. The last line of the poem, “to fall or fly” implies that the speaker is scared how he will cope without her mum as he has been dependent on her for most of her life and is scared that he might, “fall” however ending with the positive word, “fly” suggests that he didn’t fall which lifts up the mood and the reader feels relaxed.

On the other hand, the poem, “Walking away” was written by Cecil Day Lewis about his first son Sean when he is about to start school. This poem describes the pain, the speaker as a father faces of “letting his son go” as he doesn’t feel he is ready for it. This poem is really well structured, with a controlled ABACA rhyme scheme suggesting the control the speaker has towards this occasion. Also, he remembers the exact moment, “eighteen years” after, to show how vital the day was on Day Lewis’ life. Moreover, the poem then uses pathetic fallacy and presents seasonal change, “leaves just turning”. This summons the reader that the poem is going to surround the theme of change and development of the relationship between the father and the son over time. Additionally, the speaker also uses animal and space imagery to present his heartfelt love towards his son and how the separation has caused him utter grief and pain: for example, he uses a simile, “like a satellite wretched from its orbit, go drifting away”. This suggests that the son is “walking away” from the speaker. The use of the negative verb, “wretched” suggests that Sean has been reluctantly pulled away from the father’s territory(“orbit”) and is now “drifting away”, the use of juxtaposition used here between the two verbs is quite interesting, “drifting” suggests that the son is helpless and emphasises how the father is not central in the son’s life anymore. The poem then becomes really intense as the father feels that his son is not ready to go into the “wilderness” as he describes him being, “hesitant”. The adjective “hesitant” could show that both the father and the son are reluctant at this point and the son is not ready to gain his independence. Finally, in the last stanza, the father realises that he is being a bit melodramatic as he says, “I have had worse partings, but none that so gnaws at my mind still”, however this event might have had the most significance in his life as his own son is leaving him and it’s the speaker’s responsibility to care of him as he goes on in life. Furthermore, the verb, “gnaw” has quite animalistic imagery suggesting the pain he’s endeavoured.

Both poems represent how the parental love is constant throughout, in the poem, “Mother, any distance”, in the middle stanza, the speaker uses two sentence fragments, “Anchor. Kite.” The “anchor” represents the speaker’s mother who is there at the bottom to give him support while the speaker (“the kite”), becomes successful and “flies”. Additionally, there is a sense of exploration and contemplative events in both the poems through space-like imagery, “like a satellite...drifting away” and “space-walk through the empty bedrooms...”. This emphasises the distance, and evokes positive imagery of the unknown events that life holds for the poet. This also creates a sense of child-like adventure, which may link to the general theme of growing up by suggesting that we all keep some elements of our childish nature as we become older.

Overall to conclude, both the poems represent and show us how parents will never leave their child’s back and will always be there to support them in leave if they, “fall”, as they are just gaining their independence, they as of now don’t know yet whether they will succeed or not. The poem, “Mother, any distance” also show the anxiety faced by the child as he is moving out, and this mirrored in, “Walking Away” as here the anxiety is shown by the parent and he is eventually losing his control through the use of enjambement.

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