Structure and language

In terms of structure, the poem consists of a single stanza of 24 lines.

The lines are pentameters. This means they have ten syllables each.

Think about how the language the poet uses helps to convey his ideas. Below are some points to consider.

Title

The title does not tell us anything about Batman and Robin. It is only when we begin to read the poem that the identity of the kid becomes clear.

However, if we go back to the title having read the poem it may remind us of other young people who are caught up in the "shadow" (line 20) of someone they admire, and their need to forge their own identity.

Description of Batman

Batman is at first presented as a real superhero. He is described at the start in the alliterative phrase “Batman, big shot” as someone who gives orders to Robin.

Yet as we read on, his status is diminished. We hear that he "ditched" (line 4) Robin and had an affair with a married woman (line 10).

We see him at the end all alone, cooking an unappealing meal for himself, "chicken giblets in the pressure cooker" (line 21), with “next to nothing” (line 22) in the house to eat.

Can it be that Batman is incapable of managing by himself, without Robin around? He is shown as anxious to get going, "punching the palm of [his] hand" (line 23) with boredom, but unable to take action.

Slang

This poem contains various examples of slang. For example, "wander leeward" (line 2) is naval slang. The word "baby" (line 24) is American slang.

Armitage also uses British slang, the ordinary word “motor” (line 11) for the fantastical Batmobile.

The mixture of styles adds humour and perhaps helps to illustrate the growing up process - Robin himself is trying out a mixture of things.

Message

There is a serious message behind the comedy. We are encouraged to consider whether heroes and hero-worship can really sustain young people growing up.

However marvellous the admired person may be, a young person has to learn to be independent - "taller, harder, stronger, older" (line 18) - and to live their own life.