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Using two poems that you have studied so far compare the presentation of family relationships.

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Using two poems that you have studied so far compare 29/9/2007 The presentation of family relationships. 'Long Distance' by Tony Harrison and 'The Sick Equation' by Brian Patten both present negative family relationships. In 'Long Distance' Harrison talks about the relationship between father and son after their mother dies. It is a simple reflection on grief. In 'The Sick Equation' Patten explains to us how he felt about his unstable childhood. In 'Long Distance' the overriding atmosphere is morose and melancholy which fits in with the themes of the poem. The atmosphere is portrayed by the language Tony Harrison uses, fro example 'raw love' and 'crime'. The poem has a steady rhythm as it offers a steady outlook on death. You also feel pathos for the father. "Though my mother was already two years dead Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas." The father is finding it hard to come to terms with the death of his wife even though it has been a long time since she died. ...read more.


Both poems start with a depressing mood, however 'Long Distance' starts in a more formal tone than 'The Sick Equation'. In Stanza 2 and 3 of 'Long Distance' Harrison's father knows that he is doing something wrong 'He'd put you off an hour to give him time to clear away her things and look alone...' This makes him feel worse and embarrassed. Even the son is too scared to talk about it because he knows if he does his father may get upset. Also in 'Long Distance' Harrison uses language like 'raw love were such a crime.' This is not meant literally, the raw love is like an open wound and it takes time to heal but the father takes longer to heal than others. In Stanza 2, 3 and 4 of 'The Sick Equation' Patten is coming to terms with the fact that it is alright to love. 'I never let love stay long enough to take root,' This is describing his early adulthood and how he never got too close to a person in case he fell in love. ...read more.


'The Sick Equation' refers to a mathematical word and 'Stung more than any teacher's cane' also is a teaching expression. I think 'Long Distance' has been very cleverly written. Just when you think you know what Harrison is trying to tell you, just when you think you can sympathize with him about his love for his father and his torment at watching his father's extreme grief, the poem jolts you. The last stanza tells you that the poem was never just about the father. It's about Harrison and his won struggle to accept the finality of his parent's death and his own refusal to see them as 'disconnected' from his life. It has a metaphor at the end of the poem 'You haven't both gone shopping; just the same, in my new black leather phone book there's your name and the disconnected number I still call.' The father and son are not miles, but emotionally, distant. In conclusion, I think both poems convey their ideas well and although the presentation, structure and idea's were different they both had most of the same themes and deal with bad family relationships. ...read more.

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