Monday, 7 December 2009

Carol's Christmas...

Commissioned for Chrsitmas, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, has composed a political poem about the occasion. Commenting on topical issues such as the Cumbrain floods and expenses scandals, she also singles out high profile celebrity figures for their achievements; Joanna Lumley and Fabio Capello to name a few. There has been a trend for seasonal poetry ever since the installation of the first official Poet Laureate, John Dryden, in 1668; the third, Nahum Tate, wrote the Christmas carol, 'While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night'.

This is the first stanza of Duffy's, '12 Days of Christmas':

On the first day of Christmas,

a buzzard on a branch.

In Afghanistan,

no partridge, pear tree;

but my true love sent to me

a card from home.

I sat alone,

crouched in yellow dust,

and traced the grins of my kids

with my thumb.

Somewhere down the line,

for another father, husband,

brother, son, a bullet

with his name on.


  1. Well they certainly aren't the jolliest of themes for a Christmas poem!
    With Nahum Tate's 'While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night', was that his commissioned Christmas poem or was it just something he wrote that wasn't to do with him being a poet laureate? Sorry if I've confused you there.. =P

  2. I don't think Carol Ann Duffy has ever been the happiest of poets - 'Miss Havisham' comes to mind :-)Tate wasn't exactly commissioned to do so, but it was a kind of trend that had started, for Poet Laureates to write a poem at Christmas - I think it was later that it evolved into being commissioned :-)