The poem by Tony Harrison entitled “Long Distance II” tells a miserable story of a mother who has passed away and how difficult it is for the son and the father to overcome this loss. The poem delves into the themes of love, trust and death. The most prominent theme appears to be grief and sorrow.
Harrison explores how escaping the anguish caused by loss is impossible as you’re unable to overcome the extreme pain. This is evident in the poem, For example: “kept her slippers warming by the gas”.
The use of vivid imagery portrays how the dad is delusional as he immensely loves his wife, therefore he chooses to refuse the fact that she is dead. In particular the verb ‘kept’ illustrates how the father treasures all the moments with his wife and does not want these memories to be faded away.
Also, the father “renew her transport pass.” The short declarative sentence conveys how the father constantly does this therefore this suggests how he wishes to restart life again as he cannot accept the fact that his wife had died. Therefore he wants to start his wife’s life again so she can be alive and around him.
Furthermore, the father feels as though he is forced to transform himself as he feels that people constantly judge and criticised him. For example, “an hour to give him time to clear away her things” this demonstrates how the father hides everything before anyone comes and sees him with his wife belongings as he thinks they will talk irresponsibly about him.
Also, “clear” implies how he gets rid of her items meaning he wants to get rid of how people judge him for his love. Therefore it portrays how he is unable to love his wife the way he did before as no one understands him which makes them target him.
Moreover, Harrison presents how death is determined to happen which is inevitable. This is illustrated as the text reads: “I believe life ends with death, and that is all.” Here it portrays how certain the son is that one day they will all die and he won’t be able to do anything to stop it. Also the use of comma puts a break in the sentence to show how dramatic death is as there is no reunion.
Lastly, Harrison demonstrates how unconditional death cannot eliminate or reduce love as love is endless. For example, “disconnected number I still call” although his mum is not in this world the narrator still attempts to call her and communicate as he believes his mother is still around providing comfort and care. Therefore this illustrates how although she is dead she still provides compassion and love.