Comparisons in the poem
Harrisons choice for a kumquat is a metaphor for 'melancholy inside delight' (John Keats chose the grape)
Harrison has lived to be 42 so far (John Keats only lived to be 25)
When Harrison is writing he is in sunny Micanopy (This contrasts to the grim times he talks about spending in Leeds and Newcastle)
Harrison had an affair at one point (Keats was very much in love with his fiance, Fanny Brawne)
The kumquat is sour (Keats chose the grape, which is sweet)
Keats genuninly uses Greek myth as metaphors (Harrison only uses them as a tribute to Keats)
A Kumquat is largely a celebratory poem, however it has reflective moments and moments of melancholy e.g. 'wondering if she or I were better off dead', 'My first dark suit'.
Many senses are experienced in this poem. 'when I first saw her twist with one deft movement of a sunburnt wrist', 'cool' 'warm' 'shiver', 'sweet and sour'
There is evidence of Harrisons classical background. 'Flora asphyixiated'.
This fits in with the pastoral genre because it carries edenic imagery as well as themes of time, relationships, love, living for the moment and leisure.
This poem isnt nostalgic because it doesnt cover happy memories, only painful ones. Rather Harrison is thankful to have reached 42, unlike Keats, and be happily alive in a place full of bittersweet fruits with his lover.
Harrison finds joy in the bitterness of the fruit 'with all the qualities of fruit before the fall' which reflects the bitter and the sweet moments of life.
In A Kumquat he refers to his own corruption, 'last year full of bile and self defeat' and also the worst of mankinds corruption in the 20th century. 'years like an open crater, gory, grim' where the atomic bomb was launched. It aknowledges the worst and best of mankind.
Harrison finds a fruit that suits his 'prime' and at 'lifes midway'. Harrions relates to himself at 42, not knowing 'exactly when the night became the day' or when last year 'full of bile and self defeat' became the wonderful time he is now having in Florida. He talks about how 'days have darkness around them like a rind' and 'life has a skin of death that keeps it zest'. He compares his life with Keats' life cut short at 25, looks back at the last century and considers 'days in Newcastle by my daughters bed' or 'grey days' where his 'mothers wrethes lie next to christmas fruit', life and death on top of each other. Ultimatly Harrison decides to celebrate the…