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I want you and you are not here. I pause
in this garden, breathing the colour thought is
before language into still air. Even your name
is a pale ghost and, though I exhale it again
and again, it will not stay with me. Tonight
I make you up, imagine you, your movements clearer
than the words I have you say you said before.
Wherever you are now, inside my head you fix me
with a look, standing here whilst cool late light
dissolves into the earth. I have got your mouth wrong,
but still it smiles. I hold you closer, miles away,
inventing love, until the calls of nightjars
interrupt and turn what was to come, was certain,
into memory. The stars are filming us for no one.
Carol Ann Duffy is deeply fascinated by the relationship between experience and language. Can we experience an experience before we find a name to enclose it, to fix it to a singular term? The wistfulness of this poem anticpitates Duffy’s T S Eliot prize winning collection Rapture and seems as fragile in its representation of intimacy and connectness as any poem in that collection.
The emotional resonance and clarity of Duffy’s lover’s declaration which frames the poem, identifies the poem’s anchoring emotion and physical need.
‘I want you and you are not here.’ The singularity of such a yearning travels through the tonality and ‘colours’ of this poem, playing on the space between the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘You’ as the space is filled and refilled with words, sadly in place of the intimacy of physical tenderness and proximity. We are unsure, as indeed the poet seems about the absent beloved and we, like the poet endeavour to transform the poem into intimacy and reunion. Yet we wonder as we wander through the poem if this is fiction, there is such an elusive quality here. It wanders and wends its way along the journey to the near tangible physical presence of the other.
Interesting that in Rapture another other’s name has become a ‘charm’…here even and especially the name eludes….
How to analyse a text quickly!
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