After the years of Andrew Motion being poet laureate, him whining about it and his “official” poems going “Better stand back / Here’s an age attack, / But the second in line / Is dealing with it fine”, it is a relief to have Carol Ann Duffy in the seat. Somehow she seems to understand the job better and is able to find poetry in the small things that fill our everyday lives (which, I would argue, is what poetry is all about) and the news story flickering on our screens.
Recently she wrote a poem about David Beckham’s injury which sees him out of the England World Cup squad.
Achilles (for David Beckham)
Myth’s river- where his mother dipped him, fished him, a slippery golden boyflowed on, his name on its lips. Without him, it was prophesised,
they would not take Troy.
Women hid him, concealed him in girls’ sarongs; days of sweetmeats, spices, silver songs…
but when Odysseus came,
with an athlete’s build, a sword and a shield, he followed him to the battlefield, the crowd’s roar,
and it was sport, not war,
his charmed foot on the ball…
but then his heel, his heel, his heel…
The poem was originally published in The Daily Mirror, a tabloid, which employs Duffy as a regular columnist. Meanwhile, The Guardian, my newspaper of choice, looks at the poem approvingly but the comments section is where I found the biggest thrills. I particularly enjoyed FinneyontheWing, IantovonScranto and tw*tbeak but I strongly recommend the entire section. It is filled with limp poetry, bizarre imagery and iambic pentameter.