A Childhood of Emigration: a Commentary on "Originally" by Carol Ann Duffy

1114 Words Nov 15th, 2010 5 Pages
A Childhood of Emigration:
A Commentary on “Originally” by Carol Ann Duffy

Outgrowing childhood is leaving many cherished people, memories and treasures behind. Emigrating in childhood is leaving a culture, a language and a home behind. Carol Ann Duffy moved from Glasgow, Scotland to Stafford, England when she was six years old, in the 1960s, thus later writing this poem “Originally”. Through laying out childhood memories and ending on the note that she hesitates when asked of her origin, Carol Ann Duffy expresses regret that she has lost her own origin during her emigration at a young age in a nostalgic tone despite many of these memories being far from pleasant.
The most striking thing about “Originally” is that it is mainly
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This is the climax of the poem, and parallelism adds power to the language as one loss after another accumulates. It has ever more momentum when one parallel comes after another. The poet’s past is forgotten and sense of identity is altered when in the process of conforming to one’s new country you “forget, or don’t recall, or change”. From this first line of the stanza parallelism builds up to the climax. Parallelism is also used in the beginning of the poem to the same effect, when the child thinks back to her home as “the city, the street, the house, the vacant rooms”. We can see the same accumulation of precision, power and intensity. Repetition sharply points out the main theme of origin as well. One of her brothers bawls for “Home, home,” on their journey. The poet as a child also asked for “our own country” in last line of the second stanza, corresponding to the first line when she and her family “came from our own country”.
Other than parallelism and repetition, imagery is a major technique. In the shock and distress of being a new immigrant, the imagery used in this poem makes the reader uncomfortable and disturbed. Boys are “eating worms” and her brother is “swallowing a slug”, which represent actions in the new culture that are abnormal, disgusting and unacceptable to the newcomer. That the poet comes to see them as normal

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