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In the Sonnet "I am very bothered" written by Simon Armatige, is there a volta or shift...

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tohoshinki | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 8, 2010 at 9:53 AM via web

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In the Sonnet "I am very bothered" written by Simon Armatige, is there a volta or shift in mood around line 9?

Volta is a turning point which is traditionally found in a sonnet at the point in which the problem turns into a solution.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 8, 2010 at 10:01 AM (Answer #1)

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I believe that the volta in this poem occurs between line 7 and line 8 (between "handed them over" and the next line, just to be sure we're in the same place).

Before that, he's taking about what he did.  He talks about how he heated the scissors and gave them to her.

But after that, the tone of the poem changes a bit and he starts talking about the effects that what he did had on her.  He talks about how she got burned and what the doctor said.

So, to me, the poem changes quite a bit at that point.

What do you think?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 8, 2010 at 10:49 AM (Answer #2)

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It is questionable that this poem of fourteen lines is, in fact, a sonnet.  Certainly, it is not a Petrarchan or Shakespearean sonnet, for it has no adherence to stanzaic form or rhyme scheme for either type of sonnet.  So, it may be better to analyze this poem as a monlogue.  Given this format, the volta occurs when the speaker no longer speaks of himself, but changes the last stanza from first to second person and directly addresses person to whom the scissors were given.  And, here, in the third stanza (line 12), there is a movement away from the guilt of "I am bothered when I think of the bad things I have done" to an explanation of behavior:

Don't believe me, please if I say/ that was just my butterfingered way, at thirteen/of asking you if you would marry me.

In addition, there is an implication that the speaker is really not bothered:  "Don't believe me, please" he says.  "Listen," he seems to say, "I was a prepubescent boy who did stupid things to girls I liked in much the same manner as most boys of this age because they are afraid that the other boys will ridicule them.  The sad truth is that the speaker, no longer prepubescent physically, still seems prepubescent mentally as he himself is not certain of his being "bothered"; at least, he does not want his twinge of conscience to be noticed, please.

 

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