Carol Ann Duffy

(1955 / Glasgow / Scotland)

The Last Post - Poem by Carol Ann Duffy

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If poetry could tell it backwards, true, begin
that moment shrapnel scythed you to the stinking mud ...
but you get up, amazed, watch bled bad blood
run upwards from the slime into its wounds;
see lines and lines of British boys rewind
back to their trenches, kiss the photographs from home -
mothers, sweethearts, sisters, younger brothers
not entering the story now
to die and die and die.
Dulce - No - Decorum - No - Pro patria mori.
You walk away.
You walk away; drop your gun (fixed bayonet)
like all your mates do too -
Harry, Tommy, Wilfred, Edward, Bert -
and light a cigarette.
There's coffee in the square,
warm French bread
and all those thousands dead
are shaking dried mud from their hair
and queuing up for home. Freshly alive,
a lad plays Tipperary to the crowd, released
from History; the glistening, healthy horses fit for heroes, kings.
You lean against a wall,
your several million lives still possible
and crammed with love, work, children, talent, English beer, good food.
You see the poet tuck away his pocket-book and smile.
If poetry could truly tell it backwards,
then it would.

Topic(s) of this poem: veterans

Comments about The Last Post by Carol Ann Duffy

  • Narayanan Kutty Pozhath (5/2/2018 6:35:00 AM)

    I appreciate your lines. Wonderful poem. (Report) Reply

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  • (10/24/2017 2:17:00 AM)

    If only we could unwrap events in this way. So moving. (Report) Reply

  • (4/22/2016 5:33:00 AM)

    I have never thought of Carol Ann Duffy as a War Poet, but this is excellent. (Report) Reply

  • (8/29/2015 8:49:00 AM)

    wonderful pulsation and line-measurement; makes the concept of free verse logical (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, August 29, 2015

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