The Poetry of Tony Harrison Essay

The Poetry of Tony Harrison Essay

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The Poetry of Tony Harrison

Tony Harrison is almost certainly one of the most famous poets alive.
Born in Leeds in 1937 he grew up in a working-class family. Harrison
is a modern poet but chooses to use the traditional sonnet form as he
considers the rigid structure and strict rhythm and rhyming rules
which others find restricting, a challenge to him. He also sees it as
a controlled technique of expressing his feelings. Francesco Petrach
began using the sonnet at the beginning of Renaissance with his
unusual rhyming pattern and stanzas of an octave and a sestet.
Harrison's sonnets fit more into the structure of the later
Shakespearean sonnet, with the ABABCDCD rhyming scheme and rhyming
couplets. He has though subverted the classical form of the
Shakespearean sonnet and adapted it to suit his style of writing and
needs. He chooses to add an extra two lines in the form of a rhyming
couplet to summarise the rest of the poem and make a bold statement.
Traditionally sonnets have being written about love, romance and
landscapes by those such as Wordsworth, but Harrison prefers to focus
on more contemporary issues such as his strong opinions on our society
today, although manages to include conventional topics too but not in
the expected way. There are also other small changes that he has made
to benefit his style of writing. All these changes make him a very
unique writer, different to the colloquial, free verse most poets use.
Many would classify him as a modern sonnet writer.

Them & [Uz]

These two sonnets are very powerful and portray a very strong message
to the reader. They are full of conflict and anger, ...

... middle of paper ...

...ntness in his
poetry is what's kept him outside the establishment; which is exactly
where he wants to be.

Them & [uz] is conflict between the different speaking groups and the
way they are made to be divided. Book Ends and Marked With a D are
both about conflict within his family, especially with his father and
also introduce the themes of death and religion. It is obvious that
the relationship between his father and himself was a very painful

Harrrison's defines himself and his alienation through the use of his
language. Harrison treasured speech so much and the thought of him
losing part of that made him feel guilty and writing was a way for him
to deal with those feelings as well.

The renowned Resetti described a sonnet as a 'moments monument'. I
think this certainly summarizes Harrison's sonnets.

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