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Tony Harrison Poems

A collection of select Tony Harrison famous poems that were written by Tony Harrison or written about the poet by other famous poets. PoetrySoup is a comprehensive educational resource of the greatest poems and poets on history.

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by Harrison, Tony
 I

Baked the day she suddenly dropped dead
we chew it slowly that last apple pie.

Shocked into sleeplessness you're scared of bed.
We never could talk much, and now don't try.

You're like book ends, the pair of you, she'd say,
Hog that grate, say nothing, sit, sleep, stare…

The 'scholar' me, you, worn out on poor pay,
only our silence made us seem a pair.

Not...Read More



by Harrison, Tony
 How you became a poet's a mystery!
Wherever did you get your talent from?

I say: I had two uncles, Joe and Harry-
one was a stammerer, the other dumb....Read More

by Harrison, Tony
 Your bed's got two wrong sides. You life's all grouse.
I let your phone-call take its dismal course:

Ah can't stand it no more, this empty house!

Carrots choke us wi'out your mam's white sauce!

Them sweets you brought me, you can have 'em back.
Ah'm diabetic now. Got all the facts.
(The diabetes comes hard on the track
of two coronaries and cataracts.)

Ah've allus liked...Read More

by Harrison, Tony
 Though my mother was already two years dead
Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas,
put hot water bottles her side of the bed
and still went to renew her transport pass.

You couldn't just drop in. You had to phone.
He'd put you off an hour to give him time 
to clear away her things and look alone 
as though his still...Read More

by Harrison, Tony
 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...Read More



by Harrison, Tony
 Bottomless pits. There's on in Castleton,
and stout upholders of our law and order
one day thought its depth worth wagering on
and borrowed a convict hush-hush from his warder
and winched him down; and back, flayed, grey, mad, dumb.

Not even a good flogging made him holler!

O gentlemen, a better way to plumb
the depths of Britain's dangling a scholar,
say, here at the booming...Read More

by Harrison, Tony
 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...Read More

by Harrison, Tony
 'My father still reads the dictionary every day. 
He says your life depends on your power to master words.'

 Arthur Scargill
 Sunday Times, 10 January 1982

Next millennium you'll have to search quite hard
to find my slab behind the family dead, 
butcher, publican, and baker, now me, bard
adding poetry to their beef, beer and bread.

With Byron three graves on I'll...Read More