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Poetry Commentary On "Originally" By Carol Ann Duffy

1442 words - 6 pages

Commentary on "Originally"Assignment: write a full length commentary on the poem "Originally" by Carol Ann DuffyWho as a child has never been terrified by the harshness of moving? "Originally", written by Carol Ann Duffy in 1994, appeals to our inner feelings of belonging and the fear of losing our home. We follow the memories of a third-person speaker who recalls the first time she moved as a child. On a superficial level, the poem appears to be the story of a child who becomes desperate after moving to a new place and how this event produces nostalgia, then the feeling of being a stranger, but finally adaptation. Yet on a deeper level, this poem also questions the whole idea of origins: Do we ever truly belong anywhere? And, if so, where do we belong?The first stanza creates the mood of nostalgia with the theme of the broken memories of childhood. As the speaker remembers being in a car, leaving her (or his, this is unclear) former house, her brothers are crying and she is staring "at the eyes of a blind toy", creating a sense of her loneliness and the emptiness in her feelings. The children are all sad and nostalgic, and the lack of a gender for the speaker adds to the universal feeling of childhood traumas, inviting the reader to relate on a personal level. The sensory images in this stanza appeal to our vision and hearing, but in a confusing way. For example, the words "turn of the wheels" and "mother singing" clearly create the sad sounds in the environment, while the image of a "red room/which fell through the fields" suggests almost a sense of violence, like falling down or bleeding, but in a more abstract way. The alliteration of "red/room" and "fell/fields" in the first lines also adds to the sound of movement. However, each of these images seems separate from the others, broken apart like the inner emotions of the speaker. This sense of moving forward but in a broken way is also evoked by the frequent use of enjambment [in lines 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7] that literally breaks apart the flow of the sentences. This is seen again in the description of the "toy" which becomes only "blind eyes" and a "paw", the pieces of teddy bear that can't seem to give any comfort. The personified "miles rushed back to the city" further emphasizes the speaker's lack of control and isolation, as the "miles" return to her beloved "city", while she can only remember that the house stands empty - "vacant rooms/where we didn't live anymore" - and is "rushed" to a new place, emphasizing the rapid change, as though the children have been kidnapped. Even the words "Home,/Home" are broken apart with enjambment between line 4 and 5 as a way of reinforcing the feeling of separation.In contrast to the specific sensory details of stanza one, the second stanza begins with a universal statement: "All childhood is an emigration." This metaphor once more draws in the reader to understand that the specific experience of the speaker symbolizes a more universal condition: the...

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