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Simon Armitage - Harmonium

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Simon Armitage - Harmonium
AQA Relationships

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Simon Armitage - Harmonium

  1. 1. Learning Objective: Am I able to analyse the structure and devices used in the poem “Harmonium” by Simon Armitage and apply this learning to a series of comprehension questions?
  2. 2.   Read the poem to yourself Simon Armitage returns to his hometown; he visits a church and saves a church organ (harmonium) from being “bundled off to the skip”.  Answer the following in your book.  1) I think this poem is about a family relationship between … Introduction
  3. 3.   Poem consists of four stanzas of varying length  1st stanza – (short) describes the harmonium as it sits waiting to be thrown out  2nd stanza – (long) a closer look at the description of the instrument  3rd stanza – (short) looks at the history of the instrument  4th stanza – (long) describes how the instrument is carried out of the church; also touches on Armitage‟s relationship with his father. Answer in your book: What do you think 2 short stanzas and 2 long stanzas can symbolise about the particular family relationship in this poem? Structure
  4. 4.   Poem uses colloquial (everyday, casual) language.  Including lots of puns – “sold for a song”: means sold for very cheap, but of course, an organ also plays a song.  Metaphor is used to describe the choir  The harmonium is given human qualities  New language device: parallelism A form of repetition where syntax is repeated  Example: And he, being him, ... And I, being me,“ This device is used to emphasise the relationship between Armitage and his dad.  Answer in your book: Find one example of personification in the poem and explain/describe its effect. Language/Imagery
  5. 5.   Father/son relationship  Celebration of music  Preserving memory (of family or traditions like church)  How fathers have sons who will turn into fathers themselves -- generations upon generations  Death Answer in your book: In which other poem is a father/son relationship presented? How is that poem different from this one? Hint: perspective Next: line-by-line analysis Themes
  6. 6. The Farrand Chapelette was gathering dust overall, a straightforward first line – tells us what‟s going on Brand name of a harmonium in the shadowy porch of Marsden Church. “ch” sounds = consonance Armitage‟s hometown (conversational) makes the church sound dusty And was due to be bundled off to the skip. colloquial language; means to be thrown out Or was mine, for a song, if I wanted it. pun: organ could be his for a very low cost, or was available to play a tune.
  7. 7. Sunlight, through stained glass, which day to day sunlight brings the saints on the painted window to life could beatify saints and raise the dead, Beatification is the Roman Catholic tradition of declaring that a dead person‟s life was lived in a „holy‟ manner and thus, they should be sainted. Positive effect on the windows, but negative on the harmonium… had aged the harmonium‟s softwood case old and yellowed the fingernails of its keys personification The entire 2nd stanza and its description of the harmonium could be a metaphor for what item that is also often carried in a church?...
  8. 8. And one of its notes had lost its tongue, personification and holes were worn in both the treadles half-rhyme where the organist‟s feet, in grey, woollen socks paints on overall dull image to match the harmonium‟s appearance and leather-soled shoes, had pedalled and pedalled. Answer in your books: How might the imagery of “lost its tongue”, “holes”, “grey, woollen socks” and “leather-soled shoes” relate to Armitage’s father?
  9. 9. But its hummed harmonics still struck a chord: Start of a new stanza; “but” & “still” shows despite it being worn-out, harmonium still has value pun; to strike a chord is to trigger one‟s alliteration memory, or literally, to play a tune. for a hundred years that organ had stood Theme of tradition; familial or religious or community by the choristers‟ stalls, where father and son, first outright mention of the relationship he is speaking of each in their time, had opened their throats Generational gap rhyme and gilded finches – like high notes – beautiful songbirds to “end on a high note” is to leave with a pleasant memory had streamed out.
  10. 10. 4th stanza begins; about his father – becomes emotional and about mortality Through his own blue cloud of tobacco smog, with smoker‟s fingers and dottled thumbs, the resin left on a thumb from smoking a pipe Imagery is linked to the appearance of the old, worn-out harmonium he comes to help me cart it away. indicates a heaviness to carry; perhaps an emotional burden? Only pronouns are used!
  11. 11. And we carry it flat, laid on its back. personification And he, being him, can‟t help but say that the next box I‟ll shoulder through this nave heavy; cumbersome; difficult to deal with will bear the freight of his own dead weight. rhyme The father is acknowledging his own mortality. The son has difficulty stomaching this conversation because it is reaching a point of intimacy in their father/son relationship that has not yet been discovered. Sometimes, fathers and sons will “do” more and “say” less – the intimacy in their relationship is reached by doing physical tasks together. “Strong, silent type”
  12. 12. And I, being me, then mouth in reply parallelism can barely get the words out some shallow or sorry phrase or word lack of precision in language shows he is too shocked by his father‟s comment to even formulate a response too starved of breath to make itself heard. Armitage is clearly affected emotionally by his father’s comment on the fact that the poet will soon be carrying his coffin into the church. He links the image of the harmonium with his feelings towards his aging father, whose death draws nearer; confronting this idea, the poet is so emotional that he cannot express himself properly, he is overwhelmed.
  13. 13. Homework Write 3 P-E-E paragraphs showing how Armitage uses metaphor, personification and symbols/imagery in his poem to describe his relationship between him and his father? For next Wednesday – you have a whole week!

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