Word cloud of keywords and phrases from the poem Walking Away

Interpreting and analysing a poem is not necessarily a matter of finding the right answer.

Poems are complex creations and are open to many different interpretations. Your interpretation is as valid as anyone else's - as long as you can back it up with suitable evidence from the text.

Remember to avoid simply identifying what techniques or approaches poets use. Aim to show an understanding of how form, language and structure create meanings and effects.

Below are some differing interpretations of the poem. How would you interpret the poem?


Interpretation of the line: 'It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –'

InterpretationReason for interpretation
The parent is dealing with the moment when the child has grown up and no longer needs them.The age of eighteen is associated with adulthood in modern western culture. The child is older than eighteen, but by recalling a time ‘eighteen years ago’, the speaker shows us that the child is mature.
The parent finds the separation painful.Although this time has passed since the parent first realised that the child would grow away from him, the pain of letting go has not lessened.

Interpretation of the line: ‘like a satellite/ Wrenched from its orbit’

InterpretationReason for interpretation
For the early stages of its life, the child belongs with the parent.A satellite orbits a larger body – for example the Earth. This simile suggests that the child is a small being, attached by gravitational force to the parent.
The parent finds the thought of separation painful.The verb ‘wrenched’ implies a difficult and unwanted parting as if force is required to pull them apart.