Sunday, December 18, 2016


Carol Anne Duffy (Illustrator: Tom Duxbury)

How awful it would be to have your birthday on Christmas day of all days.

I have my birthday right in the middle of the year, which is quite lucky because I have two big days to look forward to every six months. It is not all doom and gloom though for Dorothy. Her birthday maybe on Christmas day, but her brother is the wonderful William Wordsworth.

So that means along with his own poetic genius, he also brings that of his best friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The three of them can spend Christmas, and Dorothy’s birthday, relaxing and reciting poetry in the beautiful winter Lake District of northwest England. Not a half bad idea if you ask me. In fact, I am rather jealous.

I love this poem probably because I love the work of both poets. The idea of a fictional poem about a possible Christmas they could have had together is really quite enchanting. It is evocative of the Romantic era and the poetry of it. Not in terms of stylistic qualities, but in terms of the imagery and the allusions Duffy uses. It is really quite admirable. The art work that goes alongside the text, with its swirls of orange and blue, is stunning and captures the dream like essence of the work. It is easily my favourite Christmas poem. I read it every year at this time, and imagine the image:

All in each other, Miss Wordsworth and the poets, bawling the chorus; their voices drifting, In 1799, To nowhen, nowhere…..

These lines make me visualise it in stunning clarity; it is a cold 25th December that is on the cusp of a new century; the three walk hand in hand together completely at one with their surroundings, with nature itself, united by their mutual friendship and affection. It is an image that has been captured, like a still-life painting, before the eventual disagreement between the two poets shattered the image. This was a time when they were happy, when they had hope for the future, and this is a poem that captures the meaning of Christmas: the simple act of being with those you love most in the world. It is perfect.

Bookworm Sean is a book obsessed English student who can usually be found over on Goodreads raving about his latest read. Recently, poetry has become one of his favorite literary forms of expression; thus he has started to read more and more of it. Look for Sean on Facebook, as well!

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