English Essay on ‘First Love’ ; ‘Long Distance’

After having read through a selection of poems from ‘Best Words’, I am going to discuss and compare two very effective and powerful poems. They are called ‘First Love’ by John Clare, and ‘Long Distance’ by Tony Harrison.Both of the poems are based on the central theme of love, but of different kinds.

When John met his ‘sweet flower ‘, he knows that nothing is going to happen between him and her, because both of them have a different class in society. Tony’s love is for his parents, and how he can’t let go off them.John’s health began to fail around middle age.

He suffered from delusions and ended his life in an asylum in Northampton, were he was both physical and mentally damaged. Clare wrote an emotional and influential poem, to express his feelings about his love experience.Clare uses the word ‘struck’ because it’s a powerful word, and it emphasises the first verse to drag the reader’s attention.’ I ne’er was struck before that hourWith love so sudden and so sweet.’The 1st verse and 3rd verse, they contain the alliterations ‘so sudden and so sweet.’ and ‘I never saw so sweet a face’. Clare brings similes and metaphors into the poem, to make the meaning of the poem noticeable.

In the 1st stanza he uses similes such as ‘bloomed like a sweet flower’ and ‘deadly pale’.Metaphors have been used in most parts of this poem. The metaphors ‘stole my heart away complete.’ and ‘legs refused to walk away,’ describe his love being deprived of happiness and turning ever so slowly towards pain and sadness. Clare explains that the metaphor ‘seemed turn to clay’, is when the woman standing in his sight, fixed him firmly to the ground.I reckon that he exploits further meaning of the poem, in stanza 2.

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When he said ‘blood rushed to my face’ he doesn’t mean that, it’s just another metaphor. He takes advantage of that metaphor, by making the poem have a deeper meaning. The poem tells us that the ‘Words’ from his ‘heart’ started to act like ‘chords do from a string’. This is an example of a metaphor and a simile. When the ‘Words’ came from his ‘heart’, he had a burning sensation ’round’ his ‘heart’.In the last stanza, where he writes ‘Are flowers the winter’s choice’, I reckon that John is referred to the winter and the woman is referred to the flower.

He considers that how can a poor man like himself, look at a rich woman like that. Then John thinks to himself ‘Is love’s bed always snow?’ he knows that love isn’t always warm, and it just might stab him in the back.The last few verses of the poem, makes me feel that this shouldn’t have happened to him. John couldn’t connect with a daughter of a wealthy farmer, to make his love prosper. The last verse gives me the feeling that, the connection between John and the woman is definitely over and his love for her ‘can return no more’. This powerful poem makes us sympathetic for the poet and probably this is where the success of the poem lies.The second poem is ‘Long distance’ by Tony Harrison. This poem is one from a sequence of poems, in which Harrison has to face terms with family death.

In the opening stanza, he drags the reader’s attention by creating an image in our mind, in the opening verses. In verse 2 Tony says that his father ‘kept her slippers warming by the gas’, making the reader conjure up a picture of her pink fluffy slippers next to the flickering flames of the gas fire.In verse 3 Harrison creates a moving image in the reader’s mind. This is because how his dad ‘put hot bottles her side of the bed’. That little image says that the father thinks her wife is still alive.

As well as putting the hot water bottles, he wastes money on her, by going down to the bus station and renew her ‘transport pass.’ This proves the relationship between the father and the mother, is equally to the connection between Tony and his parents.All of his stanzas use syllables, to make the poem have a rhythm and a rhyme.

Tony doesn’t use clever language like John, except in the 2nd stanza ‘still raw love’. He does an admirable job of telling the message behind the poemThe father is unable to accept the truth about his wife. He is still listening out for the key to ‘scrape in the rusted lock’ which hasn’t been opened for a long time.

The father is listening out for the key because he wants to ‘end his grief’, as well as his sadness to his life.The last stanza stands out from the rest. It uses a different syllable pattern than the others. He is explaining how he is coping with the death of his parents. Harrison is being cruel to his parents in verse 2, by saying ‘you haven’t both gone shopping; just the same,’ he is being particularly unfair to his father.

The father can’t let go off the memory of his wife’s death.The poem has made me think of how much I take my parents for granted and sometimes we will remember them for the good and the bad times our lives. When they have left me, it will leave me with emotional damage. I think this is how Tony feels in the last stanzaabout his parents.My final view of the poems is that Tony and John use rhythm and rhyme, to layout the main messages of the poems. John Clare adds power to his poem, which in the end makes us have feelings in our minds about him. Clare also uses clever language in his poem, like metaphor, similes and alliteration to make us realise that love can cause emotional pain in our hearts.In my opinion Tony Harrison concentrates on the syllable pattern, to make his poem rhyme and be easy to unlock the significance of the poem.

He uses images at the start, which creates the whole setting of the poem, and after he concentrates on the best way of seizing the reader’s attention.He uses the effect of different syllable patterns in the last stanza, to make it stand out. Harrison’s heart and mind are in the same position of his father, when he wasn’t able to let go off the death of his wife. This time it’s about Tony not able to, let go off his parents’ death. He has put a lot of thought and emotional damage in the poem.’Long Distance’ by Tony Harrison, is the poem that grabs my interest. It gives me something to think about in the future, when my parents are gone.

It has a good rhythm and rhyme, for it to be my chosen poem out of the poems. It is straight and simple with no clever language in it. Overall I reckon ‘Long distance’ is more of a creative poem than ‘First Love’ by John Clare.