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New Light on Tony Harrison$
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Edith Hall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266519

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266519.001.0001

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Tony Harrison’s Polygonal Ode to Delphi

Tony Harrison’s Polygonal Ode to Delphi

(p.71) 7 Tony Harrison’s Polygonal Ode to Delphi
New Light on Tony Harrison

Oliver Taplin

British Academy

This chapter sets out to map the leading themes and motifs in Tony Harrison’s recent long poem, Polygons (2015). It particularly traces the poets alluded to, and the places around Delphi which recur in vivid evocation. These are woven together to create a highly personal response to a locality that has meant a great deal to the poet, incorporating his work there, which included Trackers; his close collaborations with Jocelyn Herbert; the loving companionship of Sian Thomas; Mount Parnassus, especially Melpomene the Muse of tragedy; the addictive and restorative qualities of the waters of Castalia. The news of the death of Seamus Heaney, which reached him at Delphi in 2013 leads him to elegiac thoughts on his own survival and mortality. The overarching claim is that this poem has many of the characteristics of Tony Harrison’s most creative Poetry.

Keywords:   Delphi, Castalia, Parnassus, Byron, Heaney, Tragedy, Mortality, survival

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