Form and structure

Opening and closing stanzas

The poem is framed by two short stanzas which locate where the grandmother lives.

It opens on the second floor of a tenement. The view of the cemetery suggests somewhere peaceful

The final stanza is set on the ground floor of a high rise where the grandmother has been rehoused. There is a contrast of mood - the screaming ambulances suggest that modern society will do little to soothe the elderly woman in her last days.

Three sections - three houses

The body of the poem is divided into three sections. Each one describes a different house connected to the grandmother:

  • The first section describes the grandmother’s tenement flat, focusing on the child’s favourite place - the bedroom filled with the clutter and newspaper parcels
  • The second depicts the modern high rise flat the poet's grandmother moved to in the late 1960s. We learn of the grandmother's attempts at settling in while maintaining her routine: her work and church visits
  • The third and final section is about the cleaning house where the grandmother works, and this introduces themes of class and the old versus the younger generation

Free verse

The poem is written in free verse with a strong colloquial style. This allows Kay to weave the different voices of into her poem - child, mother, grandmother, the posh woman.