Tony Harrison’s “From Long Distance” is poem about how death has caused him and his father to grieve. Death is approached through the grief of the family and the past tense in the poem. Charles Tennyson Turner’s “On Finding a Small Fly Crushed in a Book” is a sonnet about the beauty of a dead fly’s corpse and how death can happen at any time. Death is approached through the ‘book’ and how death is unpredictable. The similarities and differences between the poems are in the diction, rhyme and rhythm.
In “From Long Distance” Tony Harrison conveys death through diction. At the start Harrison describes how the father “kept her slippers warming by the gas”. This evokes a warm atmosphere because the father is doing something nice. However Harrison writes that “my mother was already two years dead”. The adverb “already” conveys the passing of time and shows that even while the father was doing something nice for his dead wife; it is irrational to do it for “two years” and evokes a negative atmosphere because the father is emotionally stressed. Furthermore the father “put you off an hour to give him time to clear away her things”. Harrison is conveying his disappointment in the father as the father is too wound up in grief. However Harrison says “I believe in life and death and that is all” which describes how there is no afterlife but this statement is quite emotionless which makes it sound quite false. Right afterwards this is justified through “you haven’t both gone shopping”. This suggests that both parents are dead likewise with “disconnected number I still call”. Harrison conveys that he is still grieving for his dead parents just like his father. Death is approached in “From Long Distance” through death causing people to show grief in irrational ways.
In “On Finding a Small Fly Crushed in a Book”, Charles Tennyson Turner conveys death through imagery and diction. Turner portrays the corpse of the fly as being a “fair monument” and having “wings gleam out”. This image is very angelic and positive which conveys how the fly left a beautiful mark in the book. However this is ironic as flies are usually horrible and hated creatures. From this Turner writes “The pearl is by us day by day” which conveys how death can happen at any time. Furthermore Turner uses “The Book will close upon us” to portray the Book as being ‘death’ and is certain that you can’t escape it and it will eventually close. Lastly Turner writes that the “closing book may stop our vital breath, Yet leave no lustre on our page of death”. Turner conveys to the reader that when we die we don’t leave a positive mark on the world unlike that of the fly. Turner approaches death as serious matter and that it can happen any time.
There are many similarities and differences between the poems “From Long Distance” and “On Finding a Small Fly Crushed in a Book” in rhyme, diction and rhythm. The rhyme in “From Long Distance” changes in the last stanza to emphasize that Harrison has let his emotions give way and show that he is still grieving for his dead parents. Likewise in “On Finding a Small Fly Crushed in a Book” the first eight lines of the sonnet have a regular pattern but the rhyme scheme changes in the last six lines which emphasizes how humans’ corpses are different to those of flies and also that death is unpredictable through the change in rhyme scheme. The diction in “From Long Distance” is positive because of the father’s actions.
However Harrison uses words such as “blight”, “crime” and “rusted” which are all negative and create a barrier between the father and Harrison. In “On Finding a Small Fly Crushed in a Book” the diction for the first eight lines is positive when describing the beauty of the dead fly however in the last six lines it is a lot more serious which conveys the importance of the subject of death and how we need to make a mark in the world. Both poems have iambic pentameter which gives a regular rhythm and flow. In “From Long Distance” this flow gives the effect of time passing which emphasizes how death is hard to cope with. In “On Finding a Small Fly Crushed in a Book” the flow emphasizes the seriousness of death to show that it is important. These similarities and differences convey death through not being able to cope with death and how people could die anytime.
The poems “From Long Distance” by Tony Harrison and “On Finding a Small Fly Crushed in a Book” by Charles Tennyson Turner approach death through the similarities and differences in diction, rhyme and rhythm. Harrison conveys to the reader that we should learn to cope with death and not hide out emotions.