Tony Harrison

(1937 - / Leeds / England)

Marked With D. - Poem by Tony Harrison

When the chilled dough of his flesh went in an oven
not unlike those he fuelled all his life,
I thought of his cataracts ablaze with Heaven
and radiant with the sight of his dead wife,
light streaming from his mouth to shape her name,
'not Florence and not Flo but always Florrie.'
I thought how his cold tongue burst into flame
but only literally, which makes me sorry,
sorry for his sake there's no Heaven to reach.
I get it all from Earth my daily bread
but he hungered for release from mortal speech
that kept him down, the tongue that weighed like lead.
The baker’s man that no one will see rise
and England made to feel like some dull oaf
is smoke, enough to sting one person’s eyes
and ash (not unlike flour) for one small loaf.


Comments about Marked With D. by Tony Harrison

  • Susan Williams Susan Williams (2/23/2016 4:03:00 PM)

    His Father was a baker who found it difficult to put his feelings into words - 'he hungered for release from mortal speech/that kept him down'. The baker motif is used throughout the poem. 'When the chilled dough of his flesh went in the oven' - well, a corpse' is like chilled dough, and a cremating oven is like a baker's oven, so he's being accurate if a little too descriptive as with the eyes. 'the baker's man that no one will see rise' - as yeasted dough rises. His father's ashes ('not unlike flour') are enough 'for one small loaf'. Emotionally upsetting as the imagery is, the poet makes us see what we don't want to see. (Report) Reply

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  • John Nixon (10/14/2007 3:30:00 PM)

    Harrison's sixteen line sonnet allows greater freedom and flexibility than the traditional fourteen lines. Marked with 'D' is an elegy for Harrison's father, who was a baker. Many of the images of the poem allude to this. The poem steadily progresses from sorrow to anger and like many of Harrison's poem deal with the division of the classes in English society.

    http: //lambtonbookworm.wordpress.com/ (Report) Reply

  • Michael Shepherd (10/15/2005 3:58:00 PM)

    Last four lines missing here:

    The baker's man that no one will see rise
    and England made to feel like some dull oaf
    is smoke, enough to sting one person's eyes
    and ash (not unlike flour) for one small loaf. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, October 15, 2005

Poem Edited: Wednesday, October 16, 2013


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