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Background Material by Tony Harrison

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Speaking and Listening Background Material by Tony Harrison James-Blue Siobhan-Purple Doug-Red Scott-Green Tony Harrison, the author and son, appears to have written this poem about his parents, and his relationship with them. This poem appears to be recalling moments of family unity-moments of both sadness and happiness. The son appears to be sat at a desk, perhaps at an office or study at their family home. A double frame sits on the desk, reminding him of good times. He looks at the two photo's, and thinks about them both carefully. In my opinion, he wasn't as close to his parents as he would have wished, or perhaps he feels now he didn't know them as well as he thought. In the first stanza, he informs us of the two photographs on his desk-one of his mother, and one of his father. He intimates that their relationship as a married couple, which lasted for at least 40 years, was not as good as the longerity implies. "Neither one a couple, and both bad." This tells me that these are individual photo's taken on shared occasions. ...read more.


By saying 'now gone for good' tells me that the pub could have been demolished, and no longer exists. It could also add to the idea that his father has passed away. The next line, "My father and his background are both gone" fully backs up the idea that both his father and their favourite pub no longer exists. By using the word 'background' gives me the impression that his father spent a lot of time at the pub, and held a lot of memories of him. As you read on, we find out that the photo of his mother was taken at a country Welsh cottage, that he now owns, either bought, but most probably passed on down to him. The cottage seems to be located in a rural setting, and this second verse suggests that everything has changed in his life since that photo was taken 8 years ago, apart from the continueing greeness of the wood surrounding the cottage. He took the photo of his dad I believe, and is reflected in his fathers eyes. In his mothers photo, he suggests that there's a "shadow holding something to its eyes" which probably means that there is a hidden longing that hides the fact that although they were a couple in public, they weren't in private. ...read more.


This explains why the two photo's are taken of them on their own as they perhaps may have disliked being together. I think Tony Harrison wrote this poem to let people know about real life issues. He is obviously very sad and depressed at the fact that his parents split up and have now gone, and memories of them seem to be slipping away, but at the same time he is also very angry because of how they split up. The way the poem is set out-two large stanza's, followed by a slightly smaller verse, then finished off with two two lined verses, suggests to me the fading of memories over time. The verses get shorter in length as the memories he has of his parents being happy together get smaller and smaller, almost unimaginable. My response to this poem is sad, but I feel very confused at the same time. I feel the pain he may have fone through having to deal with such an event. I feel very confused however, as the poem isn't going into great deal about the true relationship between his mother and father. This refers back to him being in denial about the way they felt about each other, and their relationship behind closed doors. ...read more.

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