Comparing The Sick Equation by Brian patten and Long Distance by Tony Harrison
In this essay I am going to compare and contrast 'The Sick Equation'
by Brian Patten and 'Long Distance' by Tony Harrison.
'The Sick Equation' is about how two parent's intense arguing and
general disrespect for each other had such a damaging effect on their
son's thoughts, personality and life as an adult.
Stanza one gives us some background information to the poem. The poet
mentions the word 'school' in the opening line so we can assume he is
between the ages of ten and sixteen. We also learn that at this time,
his parents are still living together but the house is 'â€¦full of anger
and pain.' Which gives us an indication of how he feels about his home
life. The poet assumes from his past experience that he can't go with
anyone because his equation is broken. He feels it is better being
one, rather than being two and trying to make things work because
someone will always end up being hurt.
Up to stanza five, Patten describes how he pushed away anyone who
wanted to love him and how he always thought that marriage would end
in divorce. He has very low self-esteem. He would rather not be loved
at all than be love by someone, only then to be rejected by them.
However, in stanza six, we find out that he has completely turned his
life around and has found someone to love.
In contrast, Harrison writes about how loving his parents were and how
his father still loved his deceased mother and did things he would
have done if she were still alive.
Stanza one gives you details of what the father did/does for his wife.
This shows what a loving relationship they had as he was doing things
to make her life more comfortable because he loved and cared about
Stanzas two and three say how ashamed he feels about what he is doing
and how the only way for his grief to end is for her to return to him.
It's almost as if he feels his love for her is a crime that needs to
be concealed from anyone who might disapprove. He can't risk anyone
knowing about his actions and telling him that she is dead because it
would make it so much harder for him to cope.
The themes of both poems are based around loss. In 'Long Distance',
Harrison's father has to cope with the loss of his wife and then
Harrison has to deal with the demise of both his parents.
In 'The Sick Equation', there is a loss of love and affection between
Pattens's parents so, in reality, they don't really have much of a
relationship. This is a similarity between the two poems.
Another resemblance involving the two pieces of work is the fact that
the word 'raw' is mentioned in both pieces. It is ironic that both
poets used the term in their work but manages to blend it in with
their specific topic.
Patten uses the word in the line 'raw...