Tony Harrison

(1937 - / Leeds / England)

Turns - Poem by Tony Harrison

I thought it made me look more 'working class'
(as if a bit of chequered cloth could bridge that gap!)
I did a turn in it before the glass.
My mother said: It suits you, your dad's cap.
(She preferred me to wear suits and part my hair:
You're every bit as good as that lot are!)

All the pension queue came out to stare.
Dad was sprawled beside the postbox (still VR) ,
his cap turned inside up beside his head,
smudged H A H in purple Indian ink
and Brylcreem slicks displayed so folks migh think
he wanted charity for dropping dead.

He never begged. For nowt! Death's reticence
crowns his life, and me, I'm opening my trap
to busk the class that broke him for the pence
that splash like brackish tears into our cap.


Comments about Turns by Tony Harrison

  • (10/12/2018 4:10:00 PM)


    A brilliant poem redolent of the slights that the working man had to bear in a previous generation and that are returning now. Although it is couched in the dialect of the North it brilliantly depicts the comparative subservience that is returning to our society now. In a world where the power is not with you the retreat into obduracy is all a man can hold (Report) Reply

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  • Susan Williams (2/23/2016 4:14:00 PM)


    A boy always wants to fit in his father's shoes (Report) Reply

  • (2/23/2016 10:39:00 AM)


    As with all Harrison......a Larkinesque rebuke, redolent of metro taunt.....'It's Hard Up North'......deal with it! ! (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, October 15, 2005



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