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Analyse, Long Distance by Tony Harrison, I Shall Return and The Barrier both written by Claude McKay.

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The three poems which I am going to analyse are, Long Distance by Tony Harrison, I Shall Return and The Barrier both written by Claude McKay. These poems will be compared by the theme, Poetic devices and structure of the poems. Harrison's Long Distance explores the theme of death of loved ones within a family triangle. Most of Harrison's poetry focuses on his life, such as his working class childhood and family life. Similarly, in Claude McKay's The Barrier, the theme of the poem is love for another person, but here it is for someone of the opposite race. The similarity between this poem and Harrison's Long Distance is that both people in the poem cannot be with the person they want. However, in I Shall Return the theme is, again of love but not for a person, but for McKay's homeland. Claude McKay left Jamaica in 1912. He moved to America to study farming but instead of studying farming, he started to support Black working class movements. As a poet, he became a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance. The vast majority of Claude McKay's poetry is written in West Indian dialect, he also wrote poems in English like 'I Shall Return'. The themes for all three poems are about love. Long Distance, by Tony Harrison portrays the love for lost ones within a family triangle. ...read more.


His description of the person he admires shows the reader exactly how he feels, Claude McKay's description of love carries on through to the second verse. In this verse he describes her voice and once again uses a simile, '...fluting like a river reed' The way he describes their voice is calm and relaxed. However, he then states the tone of voice, 'Comes from your trembling throat' This line shows the reader that even though he likes her voice he is aware that he should not hear her, as she is scared in case she is caught. In the next verse, Claude McKay again states what he is not allowed to do. He portrays that he can see the love on the other persons face but he should not. 'I must not see upon your face Loves softly glowing spark.' The use of I must shows the reader that he wants to see them and talk to them but he must prevent this. The reader becomes aware of the love between him and the other person. McKay then makes it clear why they cannot be together in the last two lines of the final verse, 'For there's is the barrier of race You're fair and I am dark'. This shows the reader even though there is a 'spark' between them they cannot get together because of the Barrier of race even though the love is so great. ...read more.


The rhyme pattern goes, ABABCDCDEFEFGG. Long Distance contains few poetic devices. In the first quatrain Harrison seems to mock his fathers actions by saying, '...still went to renew her transport pass'. The use of the word 'still' shows that the boy does not think that he should be doing that as it serves no purpose. He teases him further in the third quatrain where he illustrates to the reader the fact that he his father knows that she is dead, 'He knew she'd just popped out to get the tea' In the last quatrain, he says, 'You haven't both gone shopping; just the same' He is rebuking his fathers' lack of cleverness, however, with a semicolon separating the two thoughts, which indicates that he, ironically, has gained the same fault as his father. In Claude McKays, the Barrier the poetic device expressed throughout the poem is the passion for the opposite person. Throughout the poem similes are used to achieve this, such as, 'Your eyes are dawning day... fluting like a river reed...' These poetic devices are used to highlight his passion for the other person. In I Shall Return, there is a lot of alliteration used throughout the poem. 'To laugh and love and watch with wonder eyes... blue-black smoke to sapphire skies... That bathe the brown blades of the bending grasses... fiddle and fife... dances dear delicious... long, long...' The use of alliteration emphasises life in the country and creates a stronger image in the readers mind. Jaspreet Athwal 10P 1 ...read more.

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