What Is Tony Harrison's Long Distance II?

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Tony Harrison’s Long Distance II is a poem pondering the loss of our beloved, and how some of us cope with said loss. When someone we love is abruptly and prematurely taken from us, it is only natural if we experience grief. But to Harrison it seems many of us do our best to put restraints on our feelings, almost like we are embarrassed by our grief, as if it was illegal. To uncover what might lie hidden in between the lines, I will in this essay delve into Harrison’s thoughts and try to decipher his text. After all it seems clear what the poem is concerning when scraping the surface, but can we find any hidden layers regarding how the father deals with the loss of his wife, in contrast to the son losing his father? And can we at the same time find some similarities? The poem opens on a rather dark note explaining how the mother has been dead for two years, but Harrison quickly goes on to describe the way in which his father tries to keep the memories of his lost wife still warm; “Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas” and he “put hot water bottles her side of the bed”. The use of warm elements in relation…show more content…
The focus is now on two people who appear to have passed away, most likely the father, finally joining his wife. In the opening sentence, we can also find a reference to the disbeliefs earlier put forth by the narrator: “I believe life ends with death, and that is all.”, which is completely contradictory to his fathers’ beliefs. The narrator does not believe they have “both gone shopping […]”, he believes him to be dead and gone, never to return. Yet “[…] in [his] new black leather phone book, there’s [the father’s] number, and the disconnected number [he’ll] still call.” Even though he initially seemed reluctant to accept his father’s way of handling his grief, he finds himself repeating the exact same ritual he did, by keeping the memories alive, pretending that they still

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