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Analysis of Poem Walking Away

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The title of the poem does to some extent help us to identify the theme of the poem

as it gives a clue of someone walking away, but is not specific. Initially my thoughts

were of someone walking away from an unhappy relationship. However, after

reading, and analysing the poem I have identified the theme of the poem as the

journey of a parent whose child moves on from starting school to leaving home. This

is evident with ‘You walking away from me towards the School’ (L.7) and this is

reinforced with ‘That hesitant figure, eddying away’’ (L.11). It shows a parents love

for a child, and the hurt that they feel when the realise that the child must move on

‘And the love is proved in the letting go’ (L.20). However, it is not clear whether it is

from a mother’s or father’s perspective although ‘Your first game of football, then,

like a satellite’’ (L.4) could indicate or help us to visualise a father watching his son at

a game of football.

The poem is written in first person continually throughout the poem ‘I have had

worse partings, but none that so’ (L.16). This helps to create a personal effect as

though the writer is speaking directly to the child and telling them their thoughts and

feelings ‘You walking away from me towards the school’ (L.7). It similarly speaks to

the reader is the same way. The mood of the poem is set in the title as it evokes a

sense of sadness, of sorrow. The overall tone of the poem is of reflection ‘It is

eighteen years ago, almost to the day’ (L1), sombreness, a bittersweet parting which

has a subdued effect as shown in ‘I have worst partings, but none that so’ (L16).

The form of the poem is arranged in four stanzas, with five lines each. It has regular

pattern which helps to show the journey each parent goes on, from bringing the child

up to then having to let go ‘I have had worse partings, but none that so’ (L.16). The

four stanzas could also be compared to the different stages of life from a baby, to

toddler, to child and then to teenager. The poem has numerous enjambments

throughout the poem signifying that this is the nature of life. Looking at the use of

language the poet has repeated the word ‘away’ three times throughout the poem

representing the parents concern, but it also shows that the parent is aware of the

nature process of the child leaving home ‘How selfhood begins with a walking away’

(L.19) but still finds it heart wrenching with ‘Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is

roughly’ (L.17). The rhyme scheme is ABACA which is continued throughout the


The first stanza commences with the poet having a memory that he shares with the

reader. A memory that the poet clearly remembers, which signifies the importance of

the event. Lines 1 and 2 sets the time of autumn which gives us a good idea of when

the event is taking place ‘A sunny day with the leaves just turning,’ (L.2), this is also

evidence of the poet using of imagery. The dash in line 3 stands out ‘The touch-lines

new-ruled – since I watched you play’ (L.3) and as its read out makes you pause,

almost reflecting on the time that has passed. There is further use of imagery in lines

three and four helping us visualise the image of a child being ‘wrenched’ from their

parents. The use of simile in line five ‘Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away’ (L.5)

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