Tony Harrison

(1937 - / Leeds / England)

Marked with D.


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.

Submitted: Saturday, October 15, 2005
Edited: Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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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

Read all 2 comments »

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