• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare and Contrast 'The Sick Equation' by Brian Patten and 'Long Distance' by Tony Harrison.

Extracts from this document...


Amanda Madaras Lealands High School English Literature Comparison of two Poems Compare and Contrast 'The Sick Equation' by Brian Patten and 'Long Distance' by Tony Harrison. In this essay I am going to compare and contrast 'The Sick Equation' by Brian Patten and 'Long Distance' by Tony Harrison. 'The Sick Equation' is about how two parent's intense arguing and general disrespect for each other had such a damaging effect on their son's thoughts, personality and life as an adult. Stanza one gives us some background information to the poem. The poet mentions the word 'school' in the opening line so we can assume he is between the ages of ten and sixteen. We also learn that at this time, his parents are still living together but the house is '...full of anger and pain.' Which gives us an indication of how he feels about his home life. The poet assumes from his past experience that he can't go with anyone because his equation is broken. He feels it is better being one, rather than being two and trying to make things work because someone will always end up being hurt. Up to stanza five, Patten describes how he pushed away anyone who wanted to love him and how he always thought that marriage would end in divorce. He has very low self-esteem. He would rather not be loved at all than be love by someone, only then to be rejected by them. ...read more.


In 'The Sick Equation', the topic is of a much more grim and psychological nature. Patten's parents had an unstable relationship and were continuously arguing which was bound to have a severe effect on Patten. His childhood was not a happy one as he felt he was '.....in a raw cocoon of parental hate.'. This is such a powerful line, as you perceive a cocoon as an enclosed space you cannot escape from. He felt trapped in his parents hate and he could not break free. 'I grew-or-did not grow' is a line in 'The Sick Equation' which describes as he felt. The consequences of the horror he witnessed at home left him physically, a grown man, but mentally, a scared little boy. Another theme is fear, as Patten, as an adult, was unnerved at the thought of being in a relationship because he thought it would mirror that of his parents. Therefore, he isolated himself from everyone, including family and friends, which meant he was very lonely - another issue raised in the poem. Possibly the main topic though, is anger. Throughout the poem, Patten discloses his anger by using strong diction such as 'raw', 'hate' and 'pain'. He is bitter and incensed that his parents' feuding has resulted in him becoming a lonely man with no one to love. Both poems are exceedingly diverse in relation to style as well. ...read more.


'New' and 'disconnected'. The reader now discovers that Harrison's father has passed away as well. However, instead of accepting it like he told his father to, he finds that he too cannot let go that easily. He still puts his parents' number in his new phone book and still rings the number even though it has been disconnected. Disconnected also describes the relationship Harrison now has with his parents. They are not a phone call or a car journey away; they are now permanently disconnected from his life. They are in a place where he cannot reach them. In 'The Sick Equation' Patten uses some strong diction to convey how unhappy his upbringing was. 'Raw'. 'Hate'. 'Anger', 'Pain', and 'Anguish' are just some of the vocabulary he uses to put this message across. In 'The Sick Equation', Patten uses the image of an albatross to describe divorce. The albatross comes from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' where the mariner kills the albatross and, as a consequence, is made to carry it around his neck. It was a punishment and that is how Patten sees divorce, the punishment for getting married. 'I never let love stay long enough to take root,' is a metaphor Patten uses to express how he pushed away anyone who wanted to love him. He compares this with the roots of a tree because, like love, given the chance they can run very deep and are continuously growing. They stay rooted deep within the soil, like love in the soul. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Love Poetry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Love Poetry essays

  1. three Tony Harrison poems

    long distance between Harrison and his father following his mother's death, or as the physical journey between Harrison and his father, as Harrison lives in America whilst his father lives in England. This poem also hints that the father is miserable, "Your bed's got two wrong sides".

  2. Compare Long Distance 1 and 2 by Tony Harrison, and My Grandmother by Elizabeth ...

    This shows, as the title explains. More long distance! The final stanza reveals the most about Harrison and his feelings for his parents. " I believe life ends with death, and that is all You haven't both gone shopping all the same, In my new black leather phone book there's

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

    make it look like he has stopped grieving for her when he really has not. 'You couldn't just drop in. You had to phone... to clear away her things and look alone.' The reader is now aware that the father knows that she is dead but he does not want

  2. Through a close analysis of language, structure and theme, compare and contrast the poets' ...

    This makes me feel angry because he is manipulating her through religion. Religion was very important in the 17th century so she is most probably going to listen to him or she would be being blasphemous by committing sacrilege in killing the flea.

  1. comparison of the poems: "The sick equation" and "Long distance"

    He thought that all couples will end up like his parents. We cannot blame him for his way of thinking as he describes to us how painful it was to watch his parents fight all the time, "all that household's anger and its pain stung more than any teacher's cane".

  2. How does Tony Harrison explore the theme of place

    As the poem develops, more negative images of the allotments come into use, such as 'choked' and 'stench', this swift change in description allows Harrison to portray how the place, however unsuitable was pivotal in his maturity into becoming an adult.

  1. Compare the ways Tony Harrison and Elizabetyh Jennings write about their parents in their ...

    Alternatively, this may just mean that his parents are united through him. Whilst Harrison's parents were connected through his birth, they are also separated by death, as his "father and his background are both gone". Similarly to 'Background material', in 'One Flesh' Jennings herself appears to be one of the key things that connects her parents together.

  2. Through Close Analysis of Language, Structure and Theme, Compare and Contrast the Poet's Attitude ...

    " I am trying to be truthful." The writer obviously wants her lover to know the real meaning of love, not his stereotypical view. Duffy also wants to emphasise the fact of how irregular her present is and it should be thought of.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work