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In Breaking the Chain Harrison portrays how, although his parents wanted him to succeed, they only wished him to go up a rung or two but settle near.

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"I had a very loving upbringing; without question, a very loving, rooted upbringing. Education and poetry came in to disrupt that loving group and I've been trying to create new wholes out of that disruption ever since." (Tony Harrison) Considering in detail one poem, or a passage from a poem, discuss the poetic methods Harrison uses to explore these conflicts. In the course of your answer: * Look closely at the effects of language, imagery and verse form. * Comment on how the poem you have chosen relates to other poems by Harrison that you have studied. In 'Breaking the Chain' Harrison portrays how, although his parents wanted him to succeed, they only wished him to 'go up a rung or two but settle near'. He had a 'loving upbringing' where his mum, like the others, pushed him as 'bright'. The mothers passed round a box of tools which is shown in the simile 'like a medal case' to have been treasured. Yet, Harrison broke the convention and the 'chain' something which he attempts to battle with in the cause, his literature. In the line, "The gap his gift acknowledged then 's as wide as /eternity" enjambment creates a gap in sentence emphasising the gap between his family forced by education. ...read more.


Here the dividers could simply be speaking of the tools from his dad. They could also symbolise the division made between them as a result of Harrison's differentiating culture and view on life; his interest in literature rather than sport. In 'Confessional Poetry' the paronomasia lies in "there were words between us" where the words could be interpreted as the words said amidst conflict. On the other hand those words could be the many thousands written in Harrison's poetry which pushed his father further away in their inaccessibility. Harrison also makes use of puns with his imagery in 'Breaking the Chain' such as in the line- "polished box wrapped in the Sporting Pink". The Sporting Pink could signify the working class life which Harrison has turned his back on by moving up more than "a rung or two". The tools of his dad's trade are encased in the words of Harrison's however, unlike Harrison's words, those enveloping the box are ones which his father might relate to. The imagery could be the literal gift of the tools and newspaper or the metaphorical suffocation of his father's legacy by the new language. The fact that this memory is written about fondly suggests that Harrison wishes to sustain this legacy and he does this by dedicating so much of his poetry to him. ...read more.


Whilst the content, which appears to conflict with the form, could depict how Harrison's education and poems conflict with his family's traditional life. In Breaking the Chain unlike in 'Book ends' Harrison maintains an alternate rhyming scheme throughout and does not break away into another pattern at the end as he does in 'I've got to find the right words on my own/I've got the envelope that he'd been scrawling/mis-spelt, mawkish, stylistically appalling/but I can't squeeze more love into their stone.' where the rhyming pattern adapts. His continuance of the alternate rhyme until the end suggests a desire to return to the traditional and not to break away or cause any further 'disruption' Ultimately, Harrison's education and love of literature combined to cause 'destruction' in what was once a 'loving, rooted' family. 'Breaking the Chain' is much softer than other Harrison' poems using alliteration of w in "whole week's wage". In contrast 'Bringing up' is brimming with plosives and harsh sounds suggesting anger and irritation. 'Breaking the Chain' however, offers Harrison's remorse that he has not made his parents proud and he 'still can't bear to part' with the idea that he might yet be able to make a 'whole' once again. Harrison's frequent use of complex imagery and puns depicts a multi-layered relationship where emotions are jumbled under the strain of balancing poetry and love of family. ?? ?? ?? ?? Caroline Finnerty ...read more.

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