Comparing The Sick Equation by Brian patten and Long Distance by Tony Harrison

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Comparing The Sick Equation by Brian patten and Long Distance by Tony Harrison

In this essay I am going to compare and contrast 'The Sick Equation' by Brian Patten and 'Long Distance' by Tony Harrison.

'The Sick Equation' is about how two parent's intense arguing and general disrespect for each other had such a damaging effect on their son's thoughts, personality and life as an adult.

Stanza one gives us some background information to the poem. The poet mentions the word 'school' in the opening line so we can assume he is between the ages of ten and sixteen. We also learn that at this time, his parents are still living together but the house is '…full of anger and pain.' Which gives us an
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Stanzas two and three say how ashamed he feels about what he is doing and how the only way for his grief to end is for her to return to him. It's almost as if he feels his love for her is a crime that needs to be concealed from anyone who might disapprove. He can't risk anyone knowing about his actions and telling him that she is dead because it would make it so much harder for him to cope.

The themes of both poems are based around loss. In 'Long Distance', Harrison's father has to cope with the loss of his wife and then Harrison has to deal with the demise of both his parents.

In 'The Sick Equation', there is a loss of love and affection between Pattens's parents so, in reality, they don't really have much of a relationship. This is a similarity between the two poems.

Another resemblance involving the two pieces of work is the fact that the word 'raw' is mentioned in both pieces. It is ironic that both poets used the term in their work but manages to blend it in with their specific topic.

Patten uses the word in the line 'raw cocoon of parental hate' while Harrison uses it in 'still raw love'

When you think of 'raw' you imagine a red, fleshy wound, which brings lots of pain. This could be how Harrison's father felt at losing his wife and how Patten felt growing up.

Although the poems are about starkly contrasting themes, both poets manage to merge it
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