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Tony Harrison is concerned at least as much with the problems of inarticulacy as with the power of words.' Discuss with detailed reference to Harrison's poetry.

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1. 'Tony Harrison is concerned at least as much with the problems of inarticulacy as with the power of words.' Discuss with detailed reference to Harrison's poetry. 'My upbringing among so-called "inarticulate" people has given me a passion for language that communicates directly and immediately.'1 In Tony Harrison's 'The School of Eloquence' he explores the various shapes and forms of language, structured according to social interpretations. Harrison was brought up in a working class environment, his father was a baker and his mother was a housewife. However, at the age of eleven he won a scholarship to Leeds Grammar School and went on to study Classics at Leeds University. Harrison presents the effects of this social clash in 'The School of Eloquence' , in particular the poem 'Them & [uz]', 'We say [us] not [uz], T.W.!' That shut my trap. / I doffed my flat a's (as in 'flat cap') / my mouth all stuffed with glottals, great / lumps to hawk up and spit out.....E-nun-ci-ate!' 2 Harrison recognises and explores the conflict caused by his having been assimilated into the very middle class society which has exploited the working class and suppressed their speech. Harrison also highlights the linguistic oppression of the working class in general, taken from 'National Trust' , 'The dumb go down in history and disappear / and not one gentleman's been brought to book : / Mes den hep tavas a-gollas y dyr.'3 Here, Harrison points out that without a voice the working class will be ignored and/or left behind. ...read more.


Harrison's poetry is meant to be read aloud and so the audience is able to pick up the maladroit dialect and grapple with the heavy-handed language which shows the inarticulacy of the working class. The short, hard, harsh language used within the colloquial dialect portrays the indecipherability of the working class. If they cannot be understood how can they be heard? The use of colloquialism in poetry has also been used by other poet's such as 'Cockney Keats' and William Wordsworth who would "water" to rhyme with "matter". It is through this mastery of words that Harrison is able to establish an identity. Not only for himself but for his material. But when Harrison uses this "working class" dialect is he being inarticulate? In the extract above taken from 'The Queen's English', Harrison is using a dialect taken from his father, a working class man. Someone who isn't as educated as Harrison, this is best observed in 'A Good Read', 'ah sometimes think you read too many books. / ah never 'ad much time for a good read.9' In this particular poem there in as ambiguity concerning Harrison's tone. The aggressive follow-up of 'Good Read! I bet! Your programme at United! / The labels on you whisky or your beer!10' focuses on Harrison's frustration at the old man's faltering control over his words. However, the final line of the poem, 'once I'm writing I can't put you down!'11 hints at an angst ridden endearment Harrison has for his father. ...read more.


/ aspires to be chucked on t'fucking fire.'17 However, when Harrison writes about his family we see the problem in a new light. If we take into consideration the philosophy of Arthur Scargill that if the working class want to be heard then they must master their words then it would seem that Harrison's family are unable to find their voice purely because they aren't looking for it, from 'A Good Read', 'You'd never get unbearably excited / poring over Kafka or King Lear. / The only score you'd bother with's your darts / or fucking football.'18 This lackadaisical attitude embitters Harrison who's main concern is finding an identity for the unspoken. Word Count: 1691 1 http://www.contemporarywriters.com/authors/?p=auth188 - author statement 2 'Them and [uz]' p.122 Penguin Books 1984 3 'National Trust' p.121 (Cornish Translation: 'the tongueless man gets his land took.' Penguin Books 1984 4 'V' p.235 Penguin Books 1984 5 http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=2004 6 'V' p.237 Penguin Books 1984 7 'V' p.242 Penguin Books 1984 8 'The Queen's English' p.136 Penguin Books 1984 9 'A Good Read' p.141 Penguin Books 1984 10 'A Good Read' p.141 Penguin Books 1984 11 'A Good Read' p.141 Penguin Books 1984 12 'Them & [uz]' II p.123 Penguin Books 1984 13 'Fire-eater' p.168 Penguin Books 1984 14 'Fire-eater' p.168 Penguin Books 1984 15 'On Not Being Milton' p.112 Penguin Books 1984 16 http://www.answers.com/topic/cato-street-conspiracy 17 'V' p.241 Penguin Books 1984 18 'A Good Read' p.141 Penguin Books 1984 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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