In “Old Man, Old Man” the juxtaposition of words like “Lord”, “World authority” and “connoisseur” with words like “shamble” and “ramble” emphasize that the old man is retreating from his talents in the adult world to an old frail man who now lives in a “contracted world”. His old talents have been exaggerated and given titles, like “Lord”, because they stress the old man’s loss of aptitude and capability, and his subsequent failure to cope in the adult world. The reference to time, “once”, “After supper” and “Now” illustrate that this poem is about a transaction of time from what once was to what the man has now become.Order now
The phrase “A man who did-it-himself” is a pun on do-it-yourself, which highlights that the old man used to be able to do it himself, but now he can’t. The use of the word “cloud” highlights that the old man’s sight is failing and that he is diminishing from the capable adult world. It also suggests the frailty of the old man and that he has to rely on his daughter to help him. In “Leaving School” military sounding words like “Inspection” and the reference to the game “Battleships” displays how hard the mature world is and shows that you have to plan and be alert all of the time to survive.
This emphasizes the fact that the boy in the poem cannot cope in school and because of that he cannot endure the adult world so he withdraws into himself and shies away from adulthood. The phrase “Self-demoted” in ‘Old Man, Old Man’ also has a military sound to it as it resembles being demoted in rank. This phrase illustrates that the old man feels he has failed in the adult world but he doesn’t want to be demoted into an incapable, dependent old man. In both poems the characters appear to be ‘high-standard people’ at the start when they are nearest to the capable adult world.
The boy is dressed in a “grey flannel suit” carrying a “suitcase” which resembles a businessman going to work in a suit and carrying a brief case. The old man is a “connoisseur” and is a “World authority” on glue. Nevertheless, the juxtaposition of these images with the characters’ incapability to cope in the adult world emphasizes their deterioration from the smart, qualified people they are in the adult world to their second childhood where they are helpless. The type of language in both poems is simplistic and colloquial with words such as “jokes”, “dab hand”, “bed” and “leaving”.
This clearly demonstrates that both the boy and the old man are decreasing in competence. The colloquial feel of the language in the William’s poem indicates it is the boys own account of his time at school and gives it a trustworthy feel to it. The language in the poem is also emotive and evokes compassion and sorrow with words like “forgot” and phrases like “miles away”. The language in the Fanthorpe poem is also emotive and evokes pity and sadness as such words as “shamble” and “helpless” are used.
The poems are made more emotive by the fact that they express a universal feeling of failing to be competent, especially in old age. The use of personal pronouns in Williams poem gives it a childish feel to it, which highlights the boy’s retreat into his second childhood. Also the colloquial language gives the impression of the poem being comprised of memories and thoughts that stress that the old man is recollecting when he was an able man in the adult world.
The simplistic language in both poems show that they aren’t embellished and show the crossroads of both people from being a capable person to an incapable person. However, the language in Fanthorpe’s poem is slightly superior to Williams poem as word like “recalcitrant”, “contracted” and “surliness” are used compared to words like “fun”, “bed” and “game” in ‘Leaving School’. The use of slightly more complicated language in ‘Old Man, Old Man’ stresses that the old man is loosing his ability to use sophisticated words, and is retreating form the capable adult world.
Both poems contain some repetition which reminds the reader of the sad situation which both the boy and the old man are in. In “Leaving School” there is repetition of the title “leaving school” which stresses that the boy wants to leave school because he feels trapped in a setting he is not secure in. In “Old Man, Old Man” there is repetition the title “old man, old man”, “small” and “cloud”. All of these words underline the insignificance into which the man is falling now he has left the independent world of adulthood.
The Fanthorpe poem has no alliteration but the Williams’ poem has alliteration on ‘s’, producing a harsh sound in the phrase “started saying” which emphasizes that the boy is diminishing into a vulnerable individual, reliant on other people because he cannot face the harsh adult world. Both poems have enjambment throughout, however, the Fanthorpe poem is comprised almost completely of enjambment whereas the Williams poem includes less. The enjambment in the Williams poem is displayed in the lines “She had my toothbrush in her hand/and she wanted to know why it was dry.
The line “Self-demoted in your nineties to washing up/After supper, and missing crusted streaks/Of food on plates;” convey the enjambment in the Fanthorpe poem. The enjambment makes the regular looking verses irregular, which illustrate that the old man is confused in his present state of mind and is retreating. The enjambment also conveys the character’s retreat from the capable adult world as it shows the steady decrease in the character’s capabilities as each point flows on from another. The Fanthorpe poem has some caesuras, which accentuates to the reader that the character is declining away from the capable adult world.
This is especially shown in the line “And where is Drury Lane? Old man, old man,”. The Williams poem does not have many caesuras, but most of the lines are end stopped, like “They had the Beacon Series” and “I forgot how to get undressed”, which conveys that the boy is unsure and falters trying to express himself like children usually do. Also, the use of simple conjunctions, like “because” and “and”, show that that boy is sticking to what he’s knows best and is comfortable with, his childish way of thinking.
The use of many conjunctions means that most of the sentences in the poem are very long and are typical of children’s writing, which also illustrates that the boy is retreating back into his second childhood. “Leaving School” and “Old man, old man” both have an authoritative female figure to guide the character and nurture for them. In the Williams’ poem there is a headmistress who keeps reminding the boy to do things and grow up and take responsibility. The headmistress is portrayed as a military figure who suggests to the boy “to think of the timetable as a game of ‘Battleships'”.
Her outward coldness is meant to compel the boy into adulthood but instead he retreats from it. In the Fanthorpe poem however, the daughter is illustrated as a compassionate, motherly figure who supports the old man during his retreat from the capable adult world. She loves his “helplessness” because it gives her a chance to help him and she asks the old man to “Let me find your hammer. Let me walk with you to Drury Lane. “, which shows that she cares about him. Both poems contain everyday actions like “television”, “not good with daughters”, “leaving school” and “waiting”.
This gives both poems a tragic feeling, which evokes emotion, as everyone feels that they will be like the characters in the poems one day. The last lines of both poems leave you sad and accentuate the failure of the boy and the old man to manage in their new environment. In Williams’ poem the last line, “I was miles away with my suitcase, leaving school. ” displays a boy who is only physically present but whose mind is where he really wants to be, not trapped in an unfriendly environment.
The last line in Fanthorpe’s poem gives a similar image. “I am only a cloud” also illustrates a man only there in physical form but whose mind is drifting off somewhere else to what he remembers when he was secure in the adult life. Both lines are open ended, which expresses the feeling of loss and failure in life which make the characters retreat. Overall both poems are similar in conveying the character’s retreat from the capable adult world and each are emotive and successful in doing so.