A Short Analysis of Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Prayer’

A reading of a modern sonnet

‘Prayer’ is one of Carol Ann Duffy’s most popular and widely-studied poems, and packs an impressive emotional punch in just fourteen lines. But how does Duffy create such a powerful poem out of some very ordinary things – practising piano scales, or the BBC Shipping Forecast? We’re going to offer some notes towards an analysis of ‘Prayer’, which can be read here.

In summary, ‘Prayer’ locates the mystical or numinous experiences and feelings to be found in our everyday lives, especially at times when we feel despair or emptiness: the musical sound of the wind through the trees, someone practising musical scales on a piano, or the name of a lost child. A man hearing the sound of a train chugging across the landscape is suddenly reminded, unexpectedly, of his childhood, and his Latin lessons (the repetition of Latin vocabulary lessons, such as learning how to conjugate the verb, often has its own rhythm: e.g. in the famous example of ‘love’, amo, amas, amat).

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A Short Analysis of Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘The Love Poem’

A reading and gloss of Duffy’s poem

‘The Love Poem’ appeared in Carol Ann Duffy’s 2005 collection Rapture. It’s a love poem about love poetry, which uses other poets’ words to create a collage. You can read ‘The Love Poem’ here; in this post we’re going to track down the poems that Duffy alludes to in her poem and offer some notes towards an analysis of ‘The Love Poem’ itself.

In summary, ‘The Love Poem’ is a poem about the difficulty of writing a love poem. The context of the poem is important: the whole of Rapture is about a love affair. It’s like a modern-day sonnet sequence, only the poems are not sonnets but written in a whole range of different forms and styles, including free verse. But Rapture harks back to such sonnet sequences of the Renaissance as Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella.

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A Short Analysis of Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Text’

A poem for the texting generation

Carol Ann Duffy’s short poem ‘Text’ might be the first great poem written about texting and text messages. It appeared in her 2005 collection Rapture. You can read ‘Text’ here; this post offers some notes towards an analysis of the poem.

‘Text’ seems straightforward, and it largely is. But in a poem (another form of ‘text’, of course) that is about how the speaker or poet fails to get her meaning across to the addressee (who is the recipient of not just her text messages but of the poem itself), it is fitting that several moments in the poem are ambiguous, the meaning less clear. Consider the simile ‘like an injured bird’ in the second line, which first and foremost refers to the delicate cradling of the mobile phone in one’s hand as if one were handling an injured small bird, such as a sparrow. But given the colloquial meaning of ‘bird’ to refer to ‘woman’, the phrase also carries the potential to be read as a reference to the speaker’s own state of hurt or emotional bruising: she is the ‘injured bird’ tending her mobile.

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10 of the Best Carol Ann Duffy Poems Everyone Should Read

The best poems by Carol Ann Duffy selected by Dr Oliver Tearle

Carol Ann Duffy (b. 1955) was the UK Poet Laureate from 2009 until 2019, but she has been a major voice in contemporary British poetry for over thirty years, since her first collection, Standing Female Nude, was published in 1985. And, as seems to be the rule for Poets Laureate, her best work consists of her non-Laureate poems. Below we’ve selected ten of her finest poems, along with a little bit about each of them. Are these the greatest Carol Ann Duffy poems, or would you add any to this list?

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A Short Analysis of Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Anne Hathaway’

A critical reading of Duffy’s Shakespeare poem

Carol Ann Duffy, born in 1955, is the UK Poet Laureate, a post she has held since 2009 and will hold until 2019. Her 1999 collection The World’s Wife contains a number of poems written about the female other halves of famous male figures from history and literature – everyone from Eurydice (Orpheus’ lover in Greek myth) to Charles Darwin’s wife. ‘Anne Hathaway’ is one of the finest poems in this volume, so we thought we’d offer a few words of analysis and interpretation of this popular Carol Ann Duffy poem. You can read ‘Anne Hathaway’ here, where it is reproduced by kind permission of the author.

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