Thursday, 30 July 2009

Carol Ann Duffy's Great War Poem

The BBC has commissioned a poem from the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, to mark the recent passing of the remaining British soldiers of the Great War. It is titled 'Last Post', and you can read and listen to it here.

I'm sure that the poem's motivation is honourable. But it seems to me to be desperately tired in its attitudes and images. Duffy has crossed 'Dulce et Decorum Est' (predictably enough) with Time's Arrow, and tossed in a bit of early Hughes for seasoning. 'That moment shrapnel scythed you to the stinking mud' is pure Hughes --- on a very bad day.

Please tell me why it is a good poem in the comments below.

Update: On their respective blogs, George Simmers and Dan Todman admire the poem, albeit with reservations. They both dislike the allusions to Owen. ('Dulce --- No --- Decorum --- No --- Pro patria mori' makes little sense, beyond indulging in the kind of Horace-bashing which Owen carried out far more memorably.) George notes that there's some confusion over whether the protagonist is a victim of gas or shrapnel. George also thinks that the rewinding is reminiscent of Slaughterhouse Five.

Would anyone like to offer a view on the phrase 'bled bad blood'?

1 comment:

  1. This may be rather simplistic, but I think 'bled bad blood' may stem in some way from "rifles' rapid rattle".