Simon Armitage uses imagery that relates to guilt and sorrowfulness to explore grief in the two poems, the Parting shot and Remains. In Parting shot, for example, the soldier has survivor’s guilt which relates to him having grief for his friend who died on the battlefield, he also goes to his dead friend’s funeral, which shows he is mourning over his friend. In Remains, the soldier kills someone during duty and feels guilty about it, in the poem, he explains his grief over the person he had murdered.

In Remains, Simon Armitage uses the imagery of guilt and sorrowfulness to explore grief. In the poem, the quote: “His blood-shadow stays on the street I walk over it week after week.” This quote shows that he feels guilty and grieves over the body because he is still haunted by the memory of murdering someone. The metaphor “blood-shadow” symbolizes guilt; shadows always follow you around, suggesting that the guilt never leaves him.

Shadows are also dark, caused by a blocking of light, highlighting how the soldier is now in a mental “darkness” and has lost all light and hope in his life. “He’s here in my head when I close my eyes” this quote also shows that he can still see the vivid image of him taking someone’s life. In the poem, it also says that he uses drugs to help him get over his grief and guilt.

The soldier feels guilty because it is a moral emotion that occurs when a person realizes that they can’t forgive themselves for what they have done. In this case, the soldier can’t forgive himself for taking someone else’s life. Grief is a natural response to loss; even though the soldier doesn’t know the person he killed, he knows that that person could’ve been someone’s son, someone’s husband etc.

In Remains, Simon Armitage also uses imagery related to guilt and trauma to explore pain and misery. An example of this is when the speaker says every time he blinks, the speaker sees the dead man once more frantically running out of the bank. While sleeping, the speaker still wonders if the man was carrying a weapon or not. The speaker’s dreams are filled with the image of the man’s body being ripped apart as it is hit by dozens of bullets. This is proven by this quote:” I see every round as it rips through his life – I see broad daylight on the other side”. Another quote/metaphor that shows imagery of guilt/grief is:” his bloody life in my bloody hands.” This suggests the soldier feels a deep responsibility for the death of the looter. “Bloody” is a symbol of guilt associated with Macbeth, highlighting the soldier’s deep guilt. Lady Macbeth is mad when she imagines blood on her hands, suggesting the soldier is also being driven mad by his memories. Later the soldier thinks about the shooting every time he walks down the street. Furthermore, when he returns home, he is still haunted by the thought of what he has done.

In Remains, Simon Armitage uses imagery and structures that refer to guilt and pain to explore anguish. The final stanza consists of only two lines and therefore stands out, emphasizing the fact the speaker cannot stop the feeling of guilt/grief of the killing. The title may refer to the remains of the dead man, the remains of the memory that haunts the speaker, and to what remains are left of his own life now that he is riddled with guilt. The final lines show that the memory was not left behind in the place of war in a distant land but is with the speaker all the time.

In Parting shot uses imagery related to guilt/sorrowfulness to explore grief. One of the quotes: “Then the world swims and drowns in everyone else’s eyes too,” shows that the survivors feel guilt and are grieving over the loss of their friends at the funeral. The word “drown” has connotations of having the inability to move on. They have survivor’s guilt.

They probably also feel guilty because they believe they could have done more to save the lives of others.

Simon Armitage uses imagery that relates to distress and sorrow to explore grief in the parting shot. The quote: “Tears which fall from his face and bloom on his ironed green shirt like two dark wounds” shows that the speaker in the poem feels intense sorrow by someone’s death. The tears denote sadness, downheartedness etc. Bloom and wounds are the only half-rhyme in the poem, which shows that the feelings are slowly becoming more revealing. The word wounds are used because the soldiers have been wounded physically and mentally.

In conclusion, Simon Armitage uses imagery related to guilt and sorrowfulness to explore grief in the two poems, The Parting shot, and Remains. He does this because he wants to show the effects of war and how painful grief/guilt can feel. He wants to show that trauma can lead to grief/guilt and that these feelings will be stuck in your head forever. Comparing the two poems shows that Armitage highlights the traumatic effects of war and demonstrates how it can affect a person after war has ended.


author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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