Simon Armitage wrote "The Manhunt" for a 2007 documentary about military service-people who have returned to civilian life, and the lingering, often lifelong effects of sustained exposure to violence. The poem is narrated by one of the documentary’s participants, Laura Beddoes. Beddoes’s husband, Eddie, was injured in combat and was discharged due to poor mental health, primarily severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The poem, initially titled "Laura's Poem," explores the lasting impact of such trauma on those who have experienced it and on the people closest to them.
After the first ...
... and intimate days,
only then would ... let me trace
the frozen river ... through his face,
only then would ...
... his lower jaw
and handle and hold
the damaged, porcelain collar bone,
and mind and ...
... rudder of shoulder-blade,
and finger and ...
... his punctured lung.
Only then could ...
... his broken ribs,
and feel the ...
... picture the scan,
the foetus of ...
... come to rest.
Then I widened ...
... to its source
to a sweating, ...
... in his mind,
around which ...
... I come close.
Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.
"The Not Dead" — Watch Simon Armitage's documentary from 2007.
Laura Beddoes Recites "The Manhunt" — Laura Beddoes reads the poem in footage from "The Not Dead" documentary.
Article on "The Not Dead" — More information about Armitage's documentary.
PTSD in Veterans — An article about the prevalence and treatment of PTSD in military veterans.
The Bosnian War — More information about the war in which Eddie Beddoes served as a peace-keeper.
1After the first phase,
2after passionate nights and intimate days,
3only then would he let me trace
4the frozen river which ran through his face,
5only then would he let me explore
6the blown hinge of his lower jaw
7and handle and hold
8the damaged, porcelain collar bone,
9and mind and attend
10the fractured rudder of shoulder-blade,
11and finger and thumb
12the parachute silk of his punctured lung.
13Only then could I bind the struts
14and climb the rungs of his broken ribs,
15and feel the hurt
16of his grazed heart.
18only then could I picture the scan,
19the foetus of metal beneath his chest
20where the bullet had come to rest.
21Then I widened the search,
22traced the scarring back to its source
23to a sweating, unexploded mine
24buried deep in his mind, around which
25every nerve in his body had tightened and closed.
26Then, and only then, did I come close.