Harrison was born in Leeds and educated at Leeds Grammar School and the University of Leeds, where he read Classics and took a diploma in Linguistics. For some years he has lived in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne.
The material of much of his poetry is provided by the memories of his working-class childhood. His poems and translations show a powerful command of rhyme and an expert adaptation of colloquial speech. His best known collections are The Loiners (1970) and The School of Eloquence.
Cited from Professor Rick Rylance's analysis, focusing on "Book Ends" and "V", as well as the themes of political and personal division. "Tony Harrison is ... more »
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Tony Harrison Poems
Long Distance II
Though my mother was already two years dead Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas, put hot water bottles her side of the bed and still went to renew her transport pass.
Marked with D.
When the chilled dough of his flesh went in an oven not unlike those he fuelled all his life,
Long Distance I
Your bed's got two wrong sides. You life's all grouse. I let your phone-call take its dismal course: Ah can't stand it no more, this empty house!
How you became a poet's a mystery! Wherever did you get your talent from? I say: I had two uncles, Joe and Harry-
Bottomless pits. There's on in Castleton, and stout upholders of our law and order one day thought its depth worth wagering on and borrowed a convict hush-hush from his warder
I thought it made me look more 'working class' (as if a bit of chequered cloth could bridge that gap!) I did a turn in it before the glass. My mother said: It suits you, your dad's cap.
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
Long Distance II
Though my mother was already two years dead
Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas,
put hot water bottles her side of the bed
and still went to renew her transport pass.
You couldn't just drop in. You had to phone.
He'd put you off an hour to give him time
to clear away her things and look alone
as though his still raw love were such a crime.
He couldn't risk my blight of disbelief
though sure that very soon he'd hear her key
scrape in the rusted lock and end his grief.
He knew she'd just popped out to get the tea.
I believe life ends with ...