litany - carol ann duffy

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  • litany
    • what is the poem about
      • The poem is about someone looking back at their childhood memories and remembering a time were listening to her mother talk to her friends and she noted the false friendships and how the taboos were almost censored. Because of this she then wanted to test the waters and said that a boy in the playground told her to **** off the mothers then react surprised and she has to apologise to them.
      • The term litany means a chant or a prayer that is repeated.
    • who is the persona
      • The persona seems to be a female adult looking back at one of her childhood memories, this is shown through the use of past tense and the temporal dexsis – “The soundtrack then was a litany”
    • themes
      • The past = Litany would fit within the theme of the past as it describes a childhood memory and represents the idea of childhood naivity but also of childhood rebellion.
      • Memories = It would also fit within the theme of memories because of the persona’s memory of when she was younger.
    • language
      • Listing = “This was a code I learnt at my mother’s knee, pretending to read, where no one had cancer, or sex, or debts.” The use of the listing describes the taboo of that time and how these were frowned upon to bring up in conversation with someone. There is also half-rhyme in the quote because of “knee” and “read” this creates a rhythm for the poem and keeps it flowing.
      • “Stiff-haired wives balanced their red smiles” The use of the verb “balanced” suggest that they are trying hard to keep it in place suggesting that the attractive front that they are portraying is false so by talking about these taboo topics they are making themselves feel better.
      • “A thrilled, malicious pause salted my tongue like an imminent storm” The use of the metaphor and the simile are used to emphasis the excitement that the persona felt because she had listened to everything that the wives were saying and knew what would cause a reaction.


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