Introduction & Overview of Originally

Carol Ann Duffy
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Originally Summary & Study Guide Description

Originally Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography on Originally by Carol Ann Duffy.

Memories play a significant role in the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy, particularly her recollections of childhood places and events. The poem “Originally,” published in The Other Country (1990), draws specifically from memories of Duffy's family's move from Scotland to England when she and her siblings were very young. The first-born child, Duffy was just old enough to feel a deep sense of personal loss and fear as she traveled farther and farther away from the only place she had known as “home” and the family neared its alien destination. This sentiment is captured in “Originally,” in which it is described in the rich detail and defining language of both the child who has had the experience and the adult who recalls it.

As the title suggests, a major concern of the poem is beginnings—one's roots, birthplace, and homeland. Stanzas 1 and 2 center on the pain of giving up, or being forced to give up, the comfort of a familiar environment and of feeling odd and out of place in a new one. In stanza 3, the final stanza, Duffy does an about-face, describing what it feels like to accept fate, to resign oneself to change and move on. The last line of the poem, however, presents an intriguing conundrum: Has the speaker really learned to forgo originality, or has she not?

In addition to The Other Country, “Originally” appears in The Salmon Carol Ann Duffy: Poems Selected and New 1985-1999 (2000). This book contains works chosen by Duffy specifically for the Salmon Publishing poetry series and includes poems from five of her previous volumes.

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