Friday, 1 May 2009

Carol Ann

I'm dead excited. I feel like the little boy who came to the Park yesterday and was shaking as he told me towards the end of the programme, 'I'm so excited about this Field Trip.'

Last June, I mentioned the possibility that Scots poet Carol Anne Duffy might become the next poet laureate, well, she has, and she has a ten-year stint, the first woman ever, and I mean EVER. At Christmas, I linked to a story poem she had written and that had been illustrated by Posy Simmonds.

I know that you don't all enjoy poetry, but I admire the good stuff, because I can't freaking do it. It's like making spells, magic with words, it can be like depth charges to the soul, or looking at a painting with infinite meaning.
Duffy's work is like that. She looks at things differently and paints it for us. I have her book, 'Feminine Gospels'.

I can't really find a poem that is short enough to type in its entirety, so maybe I'll just do a couple of first verses.

The Long Queen.
The Long Queen couldn't die.
Young when she bowed her head
for the cold weight of the crown, she'd looked
at the second son of the earl, the foreign prince,
the heir to the duke, the lord, the baronet, the count,
then taken Time for a husband. Long live the Queen.

What was she queen of? Women, girls,
spinsters and hags, matrons, wet nurses,
witches, widows, wives, mothers of all these.
Her word of law was in their bones, in the graft
of their hands, in the wild kicks of their dancing.
No girl born who wasn't the Long Queen's always child.


She was born from an egg,
a daughter of the gods,
divinely fair, a pearl, drop dead
gorgeous, beautiful, a peach,
a child of grace, a stunner, in her face
the starlike sorrows of immortal eyes.
Who looked there, loved.


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.


But what if, in the clammy soil, her limbs
grew warmer, shifted, stirred, kicked off
the covering of earth, the drowsing corms,
the sly worms, what if her arms reached out
to grab the stone, the grooves of her dates
under her thumb, and pulled her up? I wish.


She told the radio programme 'Woman's Hour' that she had thought long and hard about accepting. Well, I'm glad she did.
You did it for us hen, you did it for all of us.

1 comment:

Sleepy said...

I know!!
What a cracking choice. Her comments about a poem for Prince Edward's and Sophie's nuptuals were brilliant!