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Poems: 'Cotton Grass' imagery

SA_Walking Home/1
In 2010 Simon Armitage spent 19 days walking the 256 mile Pennine Way as a 'modern troubadour'. This online resource presents archive material relating to the walk and creation of Walking Home, held by Special Collections.
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Simon Armitage describes writing 'Walking Home'
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SA_Walking Home archive materials
A summary of the Walking Home archive materials
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Armitage Harmonium proposa
Details of book proposal 1
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Armitage Walking Home Proposal doc
Details of book proposal 2
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SA_Walking Home Red Notebook
introduction to the red notebook
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Walking Home SA/8
prose diary entry for day 0
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Walking Home SA/13
prose diary entry for day 1
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SA_Walking Home/126
Prose diary entry for day 15
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SA_Walking Away/162
red notebook poems introduction
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SA_Walking Home/18
first draft of the poem 'Cotton Grass'
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SA_Walking Home/31
second draft of the poem 'Cotton Grass'
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SA_Walking Home first proof/287
second draft of the poem 'Cotton Grass' continued
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SA_Walking Home_74
blank page entry headed 'fell ponies'
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SA_Walking Home/130
Comparison of three types of writing referring to black huts.
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SA_Walking Home/134
Notes on the changing imagery of 'Above Ickornshaw, Black Huts'
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Armitage Notebook Black Huts
Notes on the importance of landscape for the poem
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SA_Walking Home/108
Notes on the importance of poetic influences
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Walking Home SA_162
writing themes listed at the back of the red notebook
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SA_Walking Home/Glossop Audience
introduction to the Walking Home photograps
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SA_Walking Home/slug088
Walking Home photographs as visual narrative
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SA_Walking Home/digital_image/21
Walking Home: poetry as travel guide
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writing themes listed at the back of the red notebook
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Further reading material for Walking Home.
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 In the second draft of ‘Cotton Grass’, changes to the description of the grasses make them appear more alive.

The alteration of ‘stand barefoot’ to ‘wade barefoot’, makes the cottongrasses active. They may ‘bow / to the military parade / of boot and stick’, but they, unlike the parade, are unconfined by ‘the path’s edge’. Working among the elements ‘trawling the breeze, carding the air’, they are more powerful presences than their appearances as ‘humble courtiers’ would suggest.

Carding’ was a process used by the textile industry to untangle and straighten fibres. Used here it personifies the grasses and positions them as workers; it links the natural landscape of the Pennine Way with the industrial heritage of the North without losing any sense of the beauty or wilderness of the area.

The cottongrasses are both agile in space and masters of time, ‘letting’ it ‘blaze through their ageless hair / like the wind’. This striking phrase remains unchanged throughout the drafts.