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Old Man, Old Man. Box B pictures of disinherited children Your surliness world authority Lord adjuster of environments timetabled cigarette A man who did-it-himself not good with daughters. Box A his hands shamble among clues you ramble/In your talk fretting your contracted world
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Old Man, Old Man Box B pictures of disinherited children Your surliness world authority Lord adjuster of environments timetabled cigarette A man who did-it-himself not good with daughters Box A his hands shamble among clues you ramble/In your talk fretting your contracted world living in almost dark you tried not to cry Your helplessness Look at the two different descriptions. What impression do you have of the person described in the boxes? Write a sentence summarising their character.
Old Man, Old Man Page 32 Surliness – moodiness, gruffness Disinherited – excluded/rejected from family or right to family bonds Fretting – worrying Contracted – made smaller Shamble – shuffle, reach around for
Old Man, Old Man Page 32 • What do you think her (the narrator’s) opinion is of the man NOW (Box A) and IN THE PAST (Box B). • Overall? • Write a line for your responses.
More vocabulary… connoisseur – expert complement – range demoted – opposite of promoted obdurate – stubborn, hardhearted
Final three stanzas Old man, old man, So obdurate in your contracted world, Living in almost-dark, I can see you You said to me, but only as a cloud. When I left, you tried not to cry. I love Your helplessness, you who hate being helpless. Let me find your hammer. Let me Walk with you to Drury Lane. I am only a cloud
Final three stanzas • These lines alter the way in which we read the rest of the poem. It no longer seems to be just about the man, but about his relationship with the narrator. • What do these lines suggest about the relationship between these two people in the past? • How has it changed? What does the narrator hope it will be like in the future?
The Past vs The Present Use a coloured key to underline/highlight the phrases that refer to the man in the past and in the present. Notice how many of these are almost opposites – U.A. Fanthorpe cleverly shows the contrast between stubborn masculinity and absent-minded senility
Oppositions Underline one example of each of these oppositions: • – words to do with control and weakness • – words to do with authority and incompetence • – memories and descriptions of the present • – poetic and colloquial (or everyday) language • – descriptions of feelings and descriptions of objects • – thoughts and speech • – references to the old man in the third person (he) and the second person (you)
Written Response Analyse one of the oppositions or themes in this poem in a short paragraph. Here is an example using the authority versus incompetence:
The words to do with authority are mainly associated with the man and are found in the sections of the poem describing the past. The words to do with weakness refer mainly to the old man – what he has become in the present. They suggest he is no longer the powerful, authoritative – perhaps frightening – figure he once was. He is now dependent on his daughter who loves his ‘helplessness’. However, the repetition of the word ‘Let’ in the final verse makes it sound as though she is still having to plead to be allowed to do anything to help.