Brit Poet Laureate takes Piss out of Politics

carolannduffyCarol Ann Duffy has just published her first poem as Britain’s new & first woman poet laureate. Who would notice first — the French, of course: I came across this reading Pierre Assouline’s excellent Le Monde blog, La République des Livres (but then I don’t read many brit papers these days). As Assouline points out, the phrase “moral compass” refers no doubt to Gordon Brown & his troubles. Duffy’s may not be the most radical poem of the year, the righteous anger it  throws in the faces of politicians may not be original news, still, it is admirable verse from the Queen’s own poeta. The title of the poem is, of course, “Politics” — which unhappily (as PA also notes) gives away too much to begin with, undermining the tension the non-specific “it” of the poem builds up until the last line.

“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”

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2 opinions on “Brit Poet Laureate takes Piss out of Politics”

  1. yes, for a Brit Poet Laureate it’s a bit daring (although I think Masefield was very strident about the disgrace of Thirties unemployment) but the effect of the repeated upper-case politics is to imply shouting and the reflex: covering one’s ears. Hoping this nasty ‘politics’ will go away.It’s unfortunate that it’s only Labour poliicians (Blair as well as Brown) who are given a swipe too, as it can offer a tacit message that may not be intended.

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