The comparison of poems composed by Simon Armitage and Carol Ann Duffy The three poems I have chosen to compare against one another are “November” written by Simon Armitage and “Salome” and “before you were mine” which were written by Carol Ann Duffy. Each poem has its own story to tell as they all include people in their poems. “Salome” refers to a biblical text involving John the Baptist, “Before you were mine” talks about a mother who remembers what life was like before having a child, and “November” talks about a grandmother, coming to the end of her life.
All three poems are unhappy and dull poems. There is nothing lively about either of them. “Salome” is taken from the Bible in AD30. The play was written by Oscar Wilde, this was adapted to form the film “Godfather. ” It is almost too coincidental that the play and the poem were both written by a homosexual and a lesbian. In the story, King Herod marries the wife of his half-brother who is Herodius. Salome is therefore Herod’s step-daughter. He however asks her to dance for him. It was known as the dance of the seven veils and it was a very erotic dance.
Herodius tells Salome to ask for the head of John the Baptist as he was a prophet of the Christ. Herodius however had already tried to seduce John the Baptist when he was in the cells. She soon finds that John’s head is brought to her on a platter. She then starts to romance and kiss the head. When Herod hears about this, he orders for Salome to be beaten with shields. Salome seems to have had trouble with men in the past and she is taking out all her anger now. Maybe she has been used and now feels the right to make a man feel used himself.
The poem contains four stanzas each containing a different number of lines. There is no repetitive or constant rhyme. However there is half rhyme placed at the end of some of the sentences in each of the stanzas. “Colder than pewter” Salome is talking about John’s lips here, when she had just kissed them. She compares them to a pewter which are drinking tanks which are made from dull metal with either lead or tin bases. After kissing John, she didn’t’ even remember his name. “cut out the booze and the fags and the sex” The poem uses modern contemporary language even though the poem refers to biblical texts.
It seems as though Salome is taking her cruelty too casually. This line taken from the poem uses slang words like “booze” and “fags” which loses the formality of the context. “Before You Were Mine” is a poem talking about a mother who remembers what life used to be like before she had her child. The photo was taken ten years before she had had her child. We could say that it was Carol Ann Duffy herself addressing her own mother in the poem. She talks about how life back then was much more glamorous than it was after having children.
“Your polka-dot dress blows round your legs. Marilyn” The mother is compared to Marilyn Monroe in this line. The time must have been in the late fifties as the mother is wearing a polka-dot dress. The dress blows up by the wind which was the same for Marilyn Monroe. That is how she is remembered. “I remember my hands in those high-heeled red shoes.. ” The mother’s life was definatley very lively before having her child. Red is associated with being very provocative. Wearing high-heels back then gave women a higher status, especially as they were red.
The mother would have been known to many as glamorous, young and free. The poem coincides with the film “seven year itch. All the hopes and dreams the mother had were all abandoned after having the child. She realized what she had done was the wrong path to take in life. After having her child, her life wasn’t hers anymore. She had to devote all her time and energy into the child. Having a child is a very big commitment. Check with yourself first, whether or not you will be able to cope with the changes before making the big decision. You could end up regretting it!
The poem has four stanzas all containing four lines each. There is no rhyme at all, the last stanza starts with “cha cha cha”. This uses onomatopoeia. It makes the last stanza seem a bit more light hearted and not so serious. Finally we come to the poem “November”. We assume the speaker in this poem is one of a couple who have taken the other’s grandmother into a care-home. However the couple could be a mother and her son. they are thought to be related somehow as they both go back to the same house for a drink. The speaker in the poem addresses her companion as “John”.
His own feelings are not directly shown, but her reassurance of him using his name three times in a few lines suggests that he is uneasy about what he is doing. However she thinks it is time to do it and they can not leave her any longer. The poem has a rather brutal honesty from the beginning as we read “we have brought her here to die and we know it. ” There is also a contrast between the apparent concern shown in checking that the grandmother has her washing things and “trinkets”, paring her nails and tucking her up in bed.
On the other hand, they are leaving her to sink into her incontinence. As the couple leave, the old woman’s grandson, John is “shattered” which is presumably not by any physical effort, but by the strain of putting his grandma in the nursing home. The poem closes with a comfortless scene of the couple drinking themselves “numb” terrified of the dusk, which is their own death and unable to speak. There are 6 stanzas in the poem each containing three lines apart from the final stanza which only has two lines. The first line has alliteration in it and there is half rhyme in the second stanza.