Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Poem of the Week: Carol Ann Duffy

How it makes of your face a stone
that aches to weep, of your heart a fist,
clenched or thumping, sweating blood, of your tongue
an iron latch with no door. How it makes of your right hand
a gauntlet, a glove-puppet of the left, of your laugh
a dry leaf blowing in the wind, of your desert island discs
hiss hiss hiss, makes of the words on your lips dice
that can throw no six. How it takes the breath
away, the piss, makes of your kiss a dropped pound coin,
makes of your promises latin, gibberish, feedback, static,
of your hair a wig, of your gait a plankwalk. How it says this –
politics – to your education education education; shouts this –
Politics! – to your health and wealth; how it roars, to your
conscience moral compass truth, POLITICS POLITICS POLITICS.


That was "Politics" by Carol Ann Duffy. This is her first poem as Poet Laureate & is being discussed here. Someone mentioned that she shouldn't have given it a title so that the reader slowly realizes it is in fact about politics.

Duffy often comes up with evocative imagery, but in "Politics" I think the rhythm lets it down somewhat; it gets a little clumsy towards the end. Perhaps that's the intention, to let the poem descend into incoherent, diced beats.

Still, there are a lot of clever, enjoyable lines in there, like "makes of the words on your lips dice/ that can throw no six" and "of your gait a plankwalk". In other words, every mincing utterance (I imagine a knife 'dicing' up words) does not profit anyone, and every step taken advances only towards doom.

I also like how insincerity is described as a "dropped pound coin": mere lip service, a token gesture.

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