This tutorial analyses the poem “The Escape from Youth” by Tony Lintermans. Tony Lintermans is of Belgian, Irish and English heritage and was born in Dandedong, Victoria. Tony has a celebrated life as a teacher, scriptwriter and editor and has received literary recognition for his work.
“The Escape from Youth” is about a boy’s struggle to move on from his solitude of childhood. When the boy was younger, his father was hard with discipline, which resulted in the boy retreating into himself. Poetry helps the boy to express himself and to remark on the natural world around him. In the end, the boy thanks his father for causing him to spend so much time in solitude, as it helped the boy to discover a secure sense of identity, to discover the natural beauty of the world and the healing powers poetry holds.
It is safe to say that the poem is set in modern times as the language and wording used has a modern feel to it. A setting is never mentioned in the poem but it could be said that the poem is set in the boy’s mind, because throughout the poem he replays different experiences over in his mind.
The major themes of the poem “The Escape from Youth” would be sadness, solitude, thankfulness, contentment, growth, acceptance, healing, and the healing powers of poetry and the natural world.
Throughout “The Escape from Youth” there is a lot of poetry techniques used. Some of the most used techniques used in this poem would be alliteration, similes and personification.
“A hardness hammered shut” causes us to imagine a physical hammer rather than a hammer representing his father’s abuse. Another metaphor is the ‘box’. All through the poem, a ‘box’ is mentioned within the lines “my father’s discipline closed me like a box” and “rumours of happiness seeped outside the box”. There is no real box as the boy is just mentally trapped in a box, by the pain his father has caused.
Another strong image is presented when reading the line, “My father’s face, more bitten than before, a soft fist eaten by love, impossible to hate”. This quote gives two different views of the same situation. On the one hand, the father seems to have ‘healed’ from what he has done to his son (soft fist eaten by love – love overpowered hatred), (impossible to hate – the son has forgiven him?), but he is also carrying the burden of guilt around with him (my father’s face, more bitten than before).
My father’s discipline closed me like a box
A hardness hammered shut the lid.
For fifteen years, no matter what he did,
I was unreachable. Venom sealed the locks.
Content: The ‘story’ within this stanza is of the poet explaining how he came to become a recluse to mankind for 15 years due to his fathers overly hard disciplining.
Techniques: Techniques the poet uses to bring out the theme would be the simile “My father’s discipline closed me like a box” and the ongoing presence of the metaphoric box closing in the boy to solitude.
Neutral beauty kept me company. Walking
through neighbours’ cattle, from moving skies and trees
I learnt the slower, vaster intimacies.
Avoiding the world of men, I stopped talking,
Content: This stanza of the poem shows the fact that the boy turns towards the natural beauty of life rather than mankind, because mankind has hurt him so.
Techniques: The techniques used in this stanza would be personification, “neutral beauty kept me company”. The personification of the neutral beauty has the effect of making the boy seem less alone, yet, he is always with company.
except intensely to myself. Rumours
of happiness sometimes seeped outside the box.
‘Untrue!’ I howled, and double-checked the locks.
In the dark, poetry grew like a tumour.
Content: The story within this stanza is of how the boy is aware of how there is happiness outside his ‘box’ but he does not want to be a part of it. Poetry began to grow in his own little world.
Techniques: The line “happiness sometimes seeped outside the box…double-checked the locks”, shows the ongoing metaphoric presence of the box around the boy. The simile “poetry grew like a tumour” shows how the boy’s poetry is uncontrollable, wild and has a mind of its own.
When the poems were big enough to break their way out, dragging me behind, I saw my father’s face, more bitten than before, a soft fist eaten by love, impossible to hate.
Content: This stanza holds the story of how the boy’s poetry causes him to break outside of his mental box to see his father for who he really is, a victim of similar events who is “impossible to hate”.
Techniques: The main technique used in this stanza would be personification. The line “the poems were big enough to break their way out, dragging me behind” shows poetry as a force to break oneself out of a metaphorical box. Whereas poetry does not break their way out of anything, it only allows the poet to break free of his current mind set.
There is no forgiveness now, nor the need.
Silence bred rich fruits–a known self, those skies– for which I thank my father. Amnesia lies behind our peace. Neither of us dares to bleed
Content: The story within this stanza is how the son has no need to forgive his father, as, without the years in solitude, the boy would not have found his sense of identity, the appreciation of the natural beauty around him. Neither father nor son feels comfortable talking about this moment in their past and are happy to just forget and move on rather than to talk about what happened, which is clearly evident in the line “Neither of us dares to bleed”.
Techniques: The line “Silence bred rich fruits” is a metaphor as the rich fruits mentioned in this poem are actually the final products resulted in the boy spending so many years in solitude. Another technique used in this stanza would be of the alliteration of the ‘n’ sound in the line “no forgiveness now, nor the need” I believe the ‘n’ sound is appropriate as it is an easy sound to say, and this stanza is quite laid back and is not as full of pain as the other stanzas are.