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Remains by Simon Armitage
Remains is a poem about guilt and how one soldier deals with it. A quote that shows this is “End of
story, except not really.” This quote shows how the experience of the shooting is not over for the
soldier, the guilt of the soldier is very apparent when compared to his comrades who seem to be very
unaffected by the experience, “my mate goes by and tosses his guts back into his body”. Later on in the
poem he says that “the drink and drugs won't flush him out”. This means the soldier has turned to
substances to help him cope with the guilt. The poem is quite structured but plays with and uses the
rigidity of the structure. Armitage uses structure in the poem to emphasize points, ideas, or moments in
the story. For example the single couplet at the end. The language is very colloquial and violent in the
poem. For example “I see every round as it rips through his life.” The word “rips” is especially vivid
because it is often used when describing paper or other thin, malleable material and being used to
describe flesh has a particularly awful image attached. This makes the reader feel uncomfortable and
as if they are intruding on the speaker telling the story to close friends or family. However it could draw
the reader in even closer to the story if they feel like they are being spoken to directly.