Simon Armitage

(26 May 1963 / Marsden, West Yorkshire)

It Ain'T What You Do, It's What It Does To You - Poem by Simon Armitage

I have not bummed across America
with only a dollar to spare, one pair
of busted Levi's and a bowie knife.
I have lived with thieves in Manchester.

I have not padded through the Taj Mahal,
barefoot, listening to the space between
each footfall picking up and putting down
its print against the marble floor. But I

skimmed flat stones across Black Moss on a day
so still I could hear each set of ripples
as they crossed. I felt each stone's inertia
spend itself against the water; then sink.

I have not toyed with a parachute cord
while perched on the lip of a light-aircraft;
but I held the wobbly head of a boy
at the day centre, and stroked his fat hands.

And I guess that the tightness in the throat
and the tiny cascading sensation
somewhere inside us are both part of that
sense of something else. That feeling, I mean.

Comments about It Ain'T What You Do, It's What It Does To You by Simon Armitage

  • Adrian Flett (9/12/2018 3:15:00 AM)

    Vivid images of 'that sense of something else.' (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Annette Potgieter (9/12/2018 2:29:00 AM)

    Down to earth poem, easy to associate with. Acknowledging that the seemingly ordinary experiences are in reality extraordinary. Well written. (Report) Reply

  • (5/28/2018 10:29:00 AM)

    I love the humanness of this poem, it's expression of what we bring to our experiencing, contrasted with the thought that some scenes and experiences are better than others. It is a non hierarchical and thus real and evocative poem. (Report) Reply

  • (5/25/2004 12:39:00 AM)

    This is lovely is weaves together human experience for us all, his closer to home experiences count for as much as the romantic ones he describes. Very tender and inspiring. Again I feel why it works is that it appeals to us all we've had not dissimilarly evreyday experiences that have enriched us, and I guess we end up reflecting on the title that what did they do to us?
    Yep, this one resonated with me.
    (Report) Reply

Read all 4 comments »
User Rating:
3,8 / 5 ( 41 votes ) 4

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: america, water, light

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Famous Poems

  1. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  5. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  6. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Mary Elizabeth Frye
  9. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
    Pablo Neruda
  10. Television
    Roald Dahl
[Report Error]