LitScope: Sad I Ams by Trevor Millum

LitScope: Sad I Ams by Trevor Millum

For Malaysian Form 1 Students.

The Poem

Sad I Ams

I am
The ring
From an empty Cola Can
The scrapings
From an unwashed porridge pan
The severed arm
Of last year’s
Action Man.

I am
The envelope
On which the gum is gone
The Sellotape
Where you can’t find the end
The toothless stapler, springless bulldog clip
The dried-up liquid paper
That mars instead of mends
The stamped addressed reply
That you forgot
To send.

I am
The battery in which no charge is left
The starter motor which remains inert
The tyre on which the tread is worn
The sparking plug which shows no sign of spark
The carburettor choked by bits of dirt
The chromium trim from which the shine is gone.

I am
A garden
Overgrown with weeds
A library book
That no one ever reads
A stray
That no one thinks to feed
That piece of good advice
Which no one seems to need.

Trevor Millum
The Poet: Trevor Millum
  • Studied History at Birmingham University
  • Completed a PhD at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in Visual Communication in Advertising (Images of Woman)
  • Edited the first edition of the CCCS Journal: Working Papers in Cultural Studies.
  • Trained as a teacher at the University of Zambia and taught there, in the UK and Singapore
  • Became an advisory teacher for English and ICT
  • Went into software design for education and wrote guides and resource materials
  • Lifelong member of NATE
  • Director of Communications and Development of NATE 1999-2005
  • Creator of and poet in residence at Teachit’s Poetry Place

Sourced from:

What are the stanzas about?

Stanza 1

The persona compares himself to things that are unwanted, things fit to be thrown away. The cola can ring and the porridge scrapings both have served their purpose and cannot be reused, whereas the Action Man arm shows that things once in fashion will also fade away after some time.

Stanza 2

The persona compares himself to objects that have expired and are unable to be used but are still around. It could be that he sees himself waiting to be “disposed” like these objects. There is a slight play on stationery (things he compares himself to) and stationary (their status) here.

Stanza 3

The persona now compares himself to parts of a car, old and worn. The car parts are used as the symbol to show that he has run his course and his youth, or shine,  is gone. Another way of looking at this is that if these parts are changed, a car can be used again, once again bringing out the effect that he is neglected.

Stanza 4

This time around the comparison is ambiguous. The persona compares himself to things that were either cared for once but not anymore (the garden/stray), or things that are beneficial for us but are ignored (the book/advice). The persona may even see himself as a nuisance to society like the stray.

So what is the whole poem about then?

The poem is about a person who is neglected and unloved. The persona could be anyone as the author leaves the persona’s identity ambiguous, perhaps even the author himself. The persona relates to the things in our everyday life which are unwanted and neglected like himself. He feels useless and hopeless like these things.

The entire poem is placed in a depressing mood to invoke the sympathy and empathy of the reader for the persona.


Neglect and Loneliness

Throughout the poem, the persona tells us he is being neglected and unloved, like the things he compares himself to. The persona is sad about this but there is nothing he can do about it, thus feeling hopeless. There is no mention of the community around him, further implying that he is lonely and unwanted by the society he is in. On a brighter note, it is hinted that he is not useless, just not used nor cared for. This leads us to the conclusion that if not for being neglected, the persona would be in a  more positive state of mind.

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