A Lengthened Epitaph Reverberating the Elegiac Tone in Tony Harrison’s Poems about His Parents
International Journal of Literature and Arts
Volume 2, Issue 3, May 2014, Pages: 69-75
Received: Mar. 3, 2014; Accepted: May 8, 2014; Published: May 20, 2014
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Authors
Sulekha Sundaresan, Affiliated to Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tamilnadu, India
K. Sumathi, Vivekananda College, Tamilnadu, India
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Abstract
Tony Harrison is Britain's principal film and theatre poet and has famously said "Poetry is all I write, whether for books, or readings, or for the National Theatre, or for the opera house and concert hall, or even for TV."2 He was born in Leeds in 1937, won a scholarship to Leeds grammar and read Classics at Leeds University. Harrison's majority of poems, explore the gulf between his own class background and his education and the powerlessness of the inarticulate. Tony Harrison belongs to those individuals who reject any existing language and literary standards and create their unique approaches to the portrayal of reality and people. His literary prowess resulted in a breakdown in the relationship he shared with his father due to his father’s lack of understanding of his literary creations. It was during this period that the mother held their relationship together, but when she passed away the bond ended and Harrison and his father became estranged. This alienation not only forms the background of his personal life but also the primary source for his literary achievements. An elegy not only refers to poems that mourn the death of someone, but poems echoing estrangement and alienation also fall under the genre of elegy. The elements of a traditional elegy mirror three stages of loss. First, there is a lament, where the speaker expresses grief and sorrow, then praise and admiration of the idealized dead and those grieving, and finally consolation and solace. These three stages can be seen to some extent in Tony Harrison’s poems, especially in the chosen ones, Bookends, Long Distance and Background Material, thus rendering them to be elegiac in tone.
Keywords
Tony Harrison, Elegy, Public Poetry, Alienation, Estrangement, Grief, Elegiac Stages
To cite this article
Sulekha Sundaresan, K. Sumathi, A Lengthened Epitaph Reverberating the Elegiac Tone in Tony Harrison’s Poems about His Parents, International Journal of Literature and Arts. Vol. 2, No. 3, 2014, pp. 69-75. doi: 10.11648/j.ijla.20140203.13
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