Mother Any Distance By Simon Armitage
What do you think of the poem’s central image of the tape measure? Explain what you mean in your own words. The years are unreeling between mother and son but the bond will never be broken. The tape measure symbolizes the timeline e.g. his mother was there at the start and has been with him all the way through. His mum will always think of him as her baby/child no matter how much time passes between them. The tape measure could symbolize the umbilical cord between mother and child.
How does Simon Armitage present the relationship of mother and child in this poem? He uses a lot of double meanings, such as the roll of tape which could mean either a tape measure or symbolize the umbilical cord. This relates to the question because it shows how she still feels the connection between the two of them (mother and son). The first two lines show that he needs help with the house but also symbolizes that although he can be any distance from his mum, she will always be there for him. The kite represents Simon Armitage and his ascension through life and the anchor represents his mother as she is holding a stable base for him if he ever needs her. The poem is about him buying a house and his mum coming to help him; this shows us that even when he moves on he is still dependent on her. Zero end could mean two things; she was there at the start, or it could mean she was left with nothing.
How do you understand the image of the hatch that opens on an endless sky? Is this exciting or alarming or both at once? Or do you read it in any other way? The words ‘that opens” show that Armitage is starting to explore a new adventure on his own without his mother at hand. The ‘endless sky” represents the endless opportunities open to Armitage. It also shows that there are no limits to where Armitage can go and what he can do. Armitage explains that the loft represents his old life, and that the world of possibilities are open to him in his new life. We can think of this as the beginning of a new chapter in his life as well as in his ‘Book of Matches’ collection of poems. The hatch could also represent endless freedom away from his Mother. The ‘to fall or fly’ line emphasizes the risks being taken and ‘endless sky’ shows the make or break situation Armitage is in.
How does the poet capture a universal experience whether it be specifically setting up house on one’s own or more generally becoming independent of parents? • This poem could suggest Armitage has moved from home and the journey he is about to embark on he is doing so with a new independence. We think this because: • ‘You come to help me measure windows, pelmets, doors’ - suggests his mother coming to help him move house. The ‘me’ of this extract demonstrates Armitage himself. You can also envisage Armitage himself reading this or reciting this on a very personal level. • The poem uses possessive pronouns like ‘my mother’. This not only shows the personal level the poem has been written on but also possibly the possessive nature of his mother and the way she’s been protecting him and safeguarding him.
Extracts like ‘I space walk’ and ‘I reach’, also puts the poem on a very personal level, although this may not be Armitage himself. • Although at first it seems like this journey or discovery is strictly about Armitage we can see that this is not necessarily just about him. • The ‘me’ from the first extract could also be the ‘me’ everyone possesses who wants to become independent. By writing in the first person, Armitage develops an instant connection with the reader, because everybody has that characteristic of wanting to be independent, to some extent. A rapport is instantly created between poet and reader. • The possessive pronouns, such as ‘mother’, that are used may not directly mean Armitage’s mother. They may simply mean any safeguard, protection or safe-haven that everybody possesses in some form or another.
What do you like or dislike about this ‘match’ from the book? • Likes: • It’s quite short – only 15 lines long. • The way he uses symbolism such as a tape measure. • Imperial and metric measurements for old and new. • Different words are used throughout the poem to show the distance and relationship between Simon Armitage and his mother. • The way ‘space walk’ has been used to show that moving house is an act of exploration. • Dislikes: • It is very confusing. • There is no proper title (only the first three words of the poem).
There is no rhyming scheme, just one couplet at the end of stanza one – • ‘You come to help me measure windows, pelmets, doors • the acres of the walls, the prairies of the floors’.