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Analysis Of Tony Harrison's Poems

2077 words - 8 pages

Analysis of Tony Harrison's Poems After reading and analysing the three Tony Harrison poems I found
that, they portray many relationships between families with three
members. In all of the poems Harrison was the son and they talked
about the relationships between him and his father.

The first poem is ‘Book Ends’. This poem shows us how the death of the
mother affects father and son. Throughout the poem, Harrison shows the
broken relationship he has with his father, commenting “We never could
talk much”. His father’s occupation was a baker; this can be seen from
the words related to baking bread. An example can be seen from the
following quote, “Baked the day she suddenly dropped dead”, Harrison’s
father considered labour to be a male occupation., however this was
incorrect as his father was ignorant and used to mock his interest in
poetry and calling him a “scholar”, and making statements about
Harrison being unable to inscribe his feelings on his mother’s
gravestone, “You’re supposed to be the bright boy at description”. His
father’s bitterness towards the poet is a paradox, as he still
requires Harrison to help him through this sad period, “At night you
need my company to pass”. In the last stanza, the father’s ignorant
mind is shown to us poor use of language, according to Harrison, but
the theme of love is introduced as the poet “can’t squeeze more love
into their stone”, which suggests that the poet feels like an outcast
from the family and that the father is the only person allowed to
inscribe feelings on the gravestone. It is also ironic that the poet
is unable to articulate himself on the gravestone as he is an educated
person, unlike his father, and writes for a living. The first line is
presented in an unusual way, using words that the father would
probably not understand, and describes the speed at which the dead
mother was cremated. The last word of the first line ‘dead’ instantly
shows us the subject of the poem.

The second poem is ‘Long Distance’, his still continues the portrayal
of the broken relationship between Harrison and his father, but also
shows how the father still lives without her and how he remembers her.
The title, ‘Long Distance’, can be analyzed as a metaphor used to
describe the mentally long distance between Harrison and his father
following his mother’s death, or as the physical journey between
Harrison and his father, as Harrison lives in America whilst his
father lives in England. This poem also hints that the father is
miserable, “Your bed’s got two wrong sides”. Here the poet uses the
expression ‘getting out of the wrong side of the bed’ and by saying

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