A Vision by Simon Armitage,
“The future was a beautiful place one” is a sentence that is usually uttered by elders when they think back of what their past life has been and draw a balance of what has happened to them. But it also a sentence breathe out by Armitage on his fortieth birthday, which that sound more like an expression of mid-life angst.
The title of the poem is “Vision” but more than a vision it is actually a “Remembering” or “Unfulfilled dreams”. The perspective from which Armitage starts of his remembering though, could be an explanation for this title; namely: the vision that he, and all his generation had of the world and life in general back then when the telling starts.
To whom is he telling all of his anxieties? All of this resentfulness? “Remember the full-blown balsa-wood town on public display in the Civil Hall?” Is it a school companion that at this same time might me as disappointed as him? It is someone that has shared his experiences: “people like us”. Friends that have shared his same experiences.
The language Armitage uses to tell us about all of this is too poor and insignificant to be the only way to read this poem. “They were the plans, all underwritten in the neat left-hand of architects”, here is the clue: first of all, a message written on a hand becomes blurred, in the end you cannot read anything anymore. Second, the left-hand is less important then the right hand, unless you are left-handed. Third, the architect is himself, he himself has underwritten it and maybe also his friend/s. The future Armitage is now looking for has disappeared a long time ago.
Why is there no epiphany at the end? Why does he not offer the an alternative to the “extinction” of the past future, of the unlived future? “Unlived and now fully extinct” is the deletion and killing of dreams.
16 lines: 4/4/4/4. Right in the middle of the poem (between line 10 and 11) the poet could be about 20 years old. The 10th line is broken at the word dog-walking when he is probably still a kid. Line 11 continues with fuzzy felt grass, which is the grass that you can feel during an amorous play on the field. At this pint he has gown up. In line 12 the young men dives “model drivers”, “electric cars”. 40th line: the end.