How successfully does Harrison convey this 'passion' for language' in his poetry?

Essay by Saiful November 2004

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Harrison was born into a working class family in Leeds, his Mother was a housewife and his Father a miner and later a bricklayer. Harrison attended Leeds Grammar School and went on to study Classics at Leeds University. Harrison has had a variety of different careers including being a teacher, a playwright and a journalist. Harrison had a 'passion for language' from a young age and wrote several books of poetry which has won numerous prizes. Harrison wanted to communicate directly and wanted his work to be accessible to all. One famous quotation from Harrison is:

'My upbringing amongst so called 'inarticulate' people has given me a passion for language that communicates directly and immediately'.

By this quotation Harrison meant that he was brought up amongst working class people who couldn't get their meaning through properly and express themselves in a way people understand, he calls them 'inarticulate'. Harrison expresses his 'passion for language' in some of the poems he has written.

I will be looking at how successfully Harrison conveys this 'passion for language' in some of his poems from his collection, 'The School of Eloquence'.

Most of the poems Harrison wrote in his collection of poems in 'The School of Eloquence' are about his relationship with his Mother and Father. Harrison uses poems to express his feelings when his parents die and when he is writing. There are also poems about the views of the working class, especially his Fathers view. The languages used in his poems are accessible and direct however sometimes they have several meanings and can be quite complicated. There is a relationship between language, class, and power in all his poems. These show that Harrison is talking about important issues that create divisions within people and how they develop causing trouble.

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