Compare How a Relationship Is Presented in Harmonium and Sonnet 116

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The Farrand Chapelette is a type of harmonium or small organ. SimonArmitage and his father before him were choir boys at the church of Saint Bartholomew in Marsden, a village in West Yorkshire. On occasions when the congregation at a service was quite small, the organist would play the harmonium instead of the full-size organ. The harmonium eventually fell out of use, and in the opening lines of his poem “Harmonium” Armitage states that it was “gathering dust / in the shadowy porch.” It would have been thrown in a skip had Armitage not wanted it. In the final line of the first stanza he comments that he could have it “for a song”, an idiom that means very cheaply. There is an obvious play on words here, as the harmonium is of course used to play song tunes. The second stanza of “Harmonium” is twice as long as the first and describes the musical instrument in detail. The first half of this stanza focuses on the effect sunlight has had in the church. The windows show images of saints and of Jesus Christ rising from the dead; Armitage says that the sun can “beatify” the saints, in other words raise them above the level of ordinary people. He contrasts the fact that the sunlight shining through the stained glass windows has a positive effect whereas it has weathered or “aged” the wooden case of the instrument. Armitage uses the metaphor “fingernails” in describing the way the sun has discoloured the harmonium's keys; the area that the organist would have pressed with his fingers is now yellow. One of the harmonium's notes or keys has “lost its tongue;” the personification to convey the fact that the key is silent brings life to the image. The last three lines of the second stanza focus on how worn the treadles of the harmonium are. These are like pedals that the organist has to continually push down with his feet as he plays the music. There are actually holes in
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