Owen Sheers (b. 1974, Fiji) was chosen as one of the Next Generation Poets and as one of the Independent’s top 30 young British writers on the strength of his first book of poetry. A number of his ballads are tinged with an intelligent misery. Some are enlivened by passings in war, in suicide, in disease, even a touching goodbye to a steed; others by a familiarity with snippets of partition, in the middle of men and ladies, folks and youngsters, or adolescence and adulthood.
Here a brief analysis
First Stanza: The first stanza is what the boy (man) feels about his mother and her change towards her behavior towards him and how he perceives her to be old. The first line, “My mother’s hug is awkward, as if the space between her open arms is reserved for a child, not this body of a man.” It makes the readers wonder how can a mother’s hug me awkward and how can open hands be reserved. This particular stanza hints a tinge of nostalgia as he uses metaphorical significance of the flour remaking her and the imagery of her kneading the dough again makes him feel like things are normal again.
Second Stanza: In the second stanza, the poet is now talking about his relationship with his father. The poet is able to understand and empathize for his father as he observes that he is a man who has been slogging and working very hard every winter on something that continues breaking and yet he never gives up. The use of alliteration in the phrase, “pockets are filled with filings of hay.” uses alliteration to create an affect of him not being very successful. The father has a fruitless and monotonous life in a rural setting where hard work and labor is the only way of income.
Third Stanza: It is the final conclusion to the poem as the poet now explores his relationship with his grandfather who is just as relaxed as he was even before the poet had left although in the line,”it is a tune he plays faster each year” is a line that shows that his shivering has become more prominent as he has gone unsteady with age and is at the end of his life.