Carol Ann Duffy
Biography of Carol Ann Duffy
Carol Ann Duffy, CBE, FRSL (born 23 December 1955) is a Scottish poet and playwright. She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Britain's poet laureate in May 2009. She is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly LGBT person to hold the position.
Her collections include Standing Female Nude (1985), winner of a Scottish Arts Council Award; Selling Manhattan (1987), which won a Somerset Maugham Award; Mean Time (1993), which won the Whitbread Poetry Award; and Rapture (2005), winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize. Her poems address issues such as oppression, gender, and violence, in an accessible language that has made them popular in schools.
Carol Ann Duffy Poems
Not a red rose or a satin heart. I give you an onion. It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
Afterwards, I found him alone at the bar and asked him what went wrong. It's the shirt, he said. When I pull it on it hangs on my back
She woke up old at last, alone, bones in a bed, not a tooth in her head, half dead, shuffled
Words, Wide Night
Somewhere on the other side of this wide night and the distance between us, I am thinking of you. The room is turning slowly away from the moon.
In Mrs Tilscher's Class
In Mrs Tilscher's class You could travel up the Blue Nile with your finger, tracing the route while Mrs Tilscher chanted the scenery. "Tana. Ethiopia. Khartoum. Aswan." That for an hour, then a skittle of milk and the chalky Pyramids rubbed into dust. A window opened with a long pole. The laugh of a bell swung by a running child. This was better than home. Enthralling books. The classroom glowed like a sweetshop. Sugar paper. Coloured shapes. Brady and Hindley faded, like the faint, uneasy smudge of a mistake. Mrs Tilscher loved you. Some mornings, you found she'd left a gold star by your name. The scent of a pencil slowly, carefully, shaved. A xylophone's nonsense heard from another form. Over the Easter term the inky tadpoles changed from commas into exclamation marks. Three frogs hopped in the playground, freed by a dunce followed by a line of kids, jumping and croaking away from the lunch queue. A rough boy told you how you were born. You kicked him, but stared at your parents, appalled, when you got back home That feverish July, the air tasted of electricity. A tangible alarm made you always untidy, hot, fractious under the heavy, sexy sky. You asked her how you were born and Mrs Tilscher smiled then turned away. Reports were handed out. You ran through the gates, impatient to be grown the sky split open into a thunderstorm.
The Last Post
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. If poetry could tell it backwards, true, begin
The Oldest Girl in The World
Children, I remember how I could hear with my soft young ears the tiny sounds of the air-
The Light Gatherer
When you were small, your cupped palms each held a candleworth under the skin, enough light to begin, and as you grew, light gathered in you, two clear raindrops
We Remember Your Childhood Well
Nobody hurt you. Nobody turned off the light and argued with somebody else all night. The bad man on the moors was only a movie you saw. Nobody locked the door.
The most unusual thing I ever stole? A snowman. Midnight. He looked magnificent; a tall, white mute beneath the winter moon. I wanted him, a mate
Wear dark glasses in the rain. Regard what was unhurt as though through a bruise. Guilt. A sick, green tint.
In his dark room he is finally alone with spools of suffering set out in ordered rows. The only light is red and softly glows, as though this were a church and he a priest preparing to intone a Mass. Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh. All flesh is grass. He has a job to do. Solutions slop in trays beneath his hands, which did not tremble then though seem to now. Rural England. Home again to ordinary pain which simple weather can dispel, to fields which don't explode beneath the feet of running children in a nightmare heat. Something is happening. A stranger's features faintly start to twist before his eyes, a half-formed ghost. He remembers the cries of this man's wife, how he sought approval without words to do what someone must and how the blood stained into foreign dust. A hundred agonies in black and white from which his editor will pick out five or six for Sunday's supplement. The reader's eyeballs prick with tears between the bath and pre-lunch beers. From the aeroplane he stares impassively at where he earns his living and they do not care.
If I Was Dead
If I was dead, and my bones adrift like dropped oars in the deep, turning earth; or drowned, and my skull a listening shell on the dark ocean bed; if I was dead, and my heart soft mulch for a red, red rose; or burned, and my body a fistful of grit, thrown in the face of the wind; if I was dead, and my eyes, blind at the roots of flowers, wept into nothing, I swear your love would raise me out of my grave, in my flesh and blood, like Lazarus; hungry for this, and this, and this, your living kiss.
The Scottish Prince
Every summer, I visit the Scottish Prince at his castle high on a hill outside Crieff. We dine on haggis and tatties and neeps - I drink water with mine and the Prince sips at a peaty peppery dram. Then it's time for the dance. O Scottish Prince, the heathery air sweetens the night. Bats hang upside down in the pines like lamps waiting for light. Ask me, ask me to dance to the skirl o' the pipes. All the girls are in dresses. The boys are in kilts, but no boy's so fine as the Prince in his tartan pleats. I wait for a glance from the Prince, for the chance to prance or flounce by his side, to bounce hand in hand down the Gay Gordon line. Och, the pleasure's a' mine! O Scottish Prince, the heathery air sweetens the night. Bats hang upside down in the pines like lamps waiting for light. Ask me, ask me to dance to the skirl o' the pipes. At the end of summer, I say goodbye to the Scottish Prince and catch a train to the South, over the border, the other side of the purple hills, far from the blue and white flag, waving farewell from the castle roof. The Prince will expect me back again next year - here's a sprig of heather pressed in my hand as proof. O Scottish Prince, the heathery air sweetens the night. Bats hang upside down in the pines like lamps waiting for light. Ask me, ask me to dance to the skirl o' the pipes. Ask me, ask me, ask me to dance to the skirl o' the pipes.
She woke up old at last, alone,
bones in a bed, not a tooth
in her head, half dead, shuffled
and limped downstairs
in the rag of her nightdress,
smelling of pee.
Slurped tea, stared
at her hand- twigs, stained gloves-