Compare the relationships and emotions in the following poems; Home


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Compare the relationships and emotions in the following poems; Home
Burial, Long Distance and My Grandmother.

I am going to compare the relationships and emotions in the following
poems; “Home Burial, “Long Distance” and “My Grandmother”.

In all three of these poems, there is a common theme. They are all to
do with the breakdown in communication and relationships between
family and have characters, which are dealing with grief.

Each of the poems tackles these themes in different ways.

The first poem” Home Burial” is a dramatic narrative poem in which we
are presented with a couple whose marriage is in crisis, It explores
how the different responses of a husband and a wife of the death of
their child has had a damaging affect on their relationship.

The poem “Long Distance” is written by a son reflecting on the
experience of his fathers’ grief of the loss of his wife.

In the final poem, the poet writes an account of the life and death of
her grandmother and how she responds to it.

The wife from “Home Burial” is stood upon the top of their stairs
looking out at the mound under where her child is buried.

“What is it you see? She in her place refused him any help.”

This shows the inadequacy of communication between them, as struggles
to find the reasons for her behaviour she won’t let him past her
barrier, give him any help or any insight to her problem. It also
displays that she feels as though he couldn’t possibly understand why
she is so dull because she sees him as blind and unable to relate to
what she is feeling. It also suggests a feeling of resentment towards
her husband.

“Her face changed from terrified to dull.”

This leads us to believe that there is no spark of love between them
anymore and that she has grown a sense of hatred towards him.

Amy doesn’t want her husband to speak of the loss of his child because
she believes that her husband doesn’t have any respect for their child
as he dug the grave for it.

“Can’t a man speak of his own child he’s lost?”

“Not you!”

I feel that the women has misunderstood the mans actions and that by
burying his child is his way of steeping himself in his grief, of
forcing it into his muscles of his arms and his back, of feeling the
dirt on his clothes.

She wants to get out of the house and to get out of having this
conversation with him. This sort of situation has happened before as
the man says,

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“Amy! Don’t go to someone else this time.”

This is another example of the absence of communication as Amy is used
to going to someone else to discuss her problems rather than sharing
them with her husband, the man she is supposed to love and trust.

The man begs for help but she continues to refuse as she moved the
latch of the door.

“ My words are nearly always of an offence. I don’t know how to speak
of anything so as to please you.”

He feels he can’t do anything right anymore and doesn’t know how to
communicate with her. This also links with the fact that their
relationship is breaking down, as they can’t discuss each other’s
feelings.

Amy doesn’t want her husband to speak of the loss of his child because
she believes that her husband doesn’t have any respect for their child
as he dug the grave for it.

“God what a women! And its come to this, a man can’t speak of his own
child that’s dead.”

“If you had any feelings, you that dug with your own hand-how could
you-his little grave!”

I feel that the women has misunderstood the mans actions and that by
burying his child is his way of steeping himself in his grief, of
forcing it into his muscles of his arms and his back, of feeling the
dirt on his clothes.

By the end of the poem the women is crying and the man is urging her
to come inside because he now felt that she had let all her feelings
out but still she refuses and opens the door. The man calls back after
her,

“I’ll follow you and bring you back by force. I will!-“

This powerful language shows he is angry and is determined to get her
back and sort their problems through.

The atmosphere throughout this poem is very tense.

In “Home Burial” I can find a range of different tones like anger,
“You make me angry. I’ll come down to you.” Bitterness, “Blind
creature.”Distress, “Don’t, Don’t, Don’t.” Grief, sorrow and sadness
“If you had any feelings you that dug with your own hand-how could
you?-His little grave.” Frustration, “Cant a man speak of his son hes
lost? Agression, “Ill follow you and bring you back by force. I will!”

All of these emotions show how tense the couple are towards each other
and the lack of comfort there is present.

Unlike “Home Burial”; a conversational poem with no rhyme scheme,
“Long Distance” is a rhyming poem, written in four line verses using a
rhyme scheme of ABAB.

“Long Distance” is a poem in a sequence, which Tony Harrison explores
how he comes to terms with death in his family. Although these two
poems deal with grief they both differ in their approach.

The first four lines of ”Long Distance” show us how he is dealing with
his grief for his wife

“Dad kept her slippers warming by the fire, put hot water bottles her
side of the bed…”

He clearly doesn’t want to accept that his wife is dead and is doing
all the things he would have done if she were alive.

Most people would think that this man was crazy but his son doesn’t
confront him but instead lets him get on with his life as he’s doing
it. This lack of communication is shown in both of these poems,
however in “Home Burial” that is shown in a bitter and aggressive way
whereas in “Long Distance” it’s in more of a considerate way. So not
to embarrass his dad he rings an hour before hand so he has time to
clear away the evidence of how upset he still is.

“…to clear away her things and look alone as though his still raw love
were such a crime,”

I think Harrisons’ choice of words here-“ Still raw love” portrays how
much he loves his wife even after all the year she’s been dead, his
love for her is the same as when she was alive.

I also noticed other uses of words in this poem which are very
effective. He does this by using metaphors such as, “You haven’t both
gone shopping” indicating they are both dead.

The old man kept on trying to convince himself she was going to come
back but their were signs in the poem that displayed she wouldn’t.

“Though sure that very soon he’d hear her key scrape in the rusted
lock and end his grief”.

Here he uses a good choice of words, as it is evident that the lock
hasn’t been used for a long time since she had died, which is why it
is rusty.

At the end of “Home Burial” the couple still haven’t resolved their
problem of poor communication, on the other hand in “Long Distance”
Harrison expresses sympathy for his father because he now understands
his dads grief and what he went through. What Tony Harrison also does
is change the rhyme scheme, to achieve this modification in the poem.

This lack of communication in the other two poems is also found in “My
Grandmother” written by the granddaughter, Elizabeth Jennings and the
relationship between her and her Grandmother.

“In My Grandmother” the old lady gave all her time and attention to
her shop. We know this from the first line in the first stanza.

“She kept an antique shop-or it kept her.”

She is so engrossed in her shop that she doesn’t have time for
relationships, which is the reason why her and the narrator Elizabeth
Jennings were never close. This is also why her granddaughter didn’t
want to go down with her because she didn’t feel close enough.

“Later too frail to keep a shop, she put all her best things in one
long narrow room”

This indicates that her life is ending soon an that she is going to
die with the things that have been her life over so many years as
these antiques have stood in the way of any strong relationship with a
person.

“The smell of absences where the shadows come that can’t be polished,”

The poet uses this metaphor to portray the absences like
relationships, which would have filled her life. When the grandmother
found a mark on her antiques she wipes them away as she does so with
people by pushing them aside.

In contrast to the other two poems, she feels guilt rather than grief.

“And when she died I felt no grief at all, only the guilt of what I
once refused”

The reason why she felt no grief because she was never a big part in
her life so it was no great loss for her although she was left with
guilt for not going down town with her and making the effort to bond.

Just as “Long Distance” has a rhyme scheme so does “My Grandmother”
which follows an ABABCC rhyme scheme throughout four verses.


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