V.

First edition, first printing. Hardcover issue. Original black cloth lettered in gilt to the spine, in the dustwrapper illustatrated with Graham Sykes' photographs which also accompany the text of the poem. A fine copy, the binding square and firm, the contents clean throughout. In the near fine, unclipped dustwrapper, a little faded to the upper edge of front and rear panels (c. 1 cm). An attractive copy of the uncommon cloth edition.

Deftly weaving the personal and the political, Harrison's long poem in rhymed quatrains recounts a visit to his parents' graves in Holbeck Cemetery, Beeston, Leeds. "Harrison's v." the jacket tells us "stands for 'versus'. These verses capture the angry, desolate mood of Britain in the mid-1980s." Written at the time of the miners' strikes (to which the poem refers), the poem's epigraph is a quotation from Arthur Scargill concerning language, power and privilege ("My father still reads the dictionary every day. He says your life depends on your power to master words"). Like Thomas Gray's canonical 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard' (1751), whose enigmatic, closing Epitaph seems be the poet's own, Harrison's latter-day elegy concludes with "the chiselled epitaph" he has prepared for himself. First published in the London Review of Books (24 January 1985) 'V.' was greeted in some quarters with disapproval owing to its frank transcription of West Yorkshire demotic (mostly of graffiti sprayed on gravestones). The disapproval was later rekindled in advance of a filmed version of the poem broadcast by Channel 4 on 4 November 1987, but not before an early day motion entitled "Television Obscenity" was tabled by a group of Conservative MPs and put to parliament on 27 October 1987. The book is illustrated throughout with Graham Sykes' remarkable photographs.

Stock code: 25504

£150

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