We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

How Duffy and Pugh Explore the Concept of ‘Journey’ Essay Sample

  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1,338
  • Rewriting Possibility: 99% (excellent)
  • Category: poetry

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues.

Get Access

Introduction of TOPIC

The concept of ‘journey’ is one which pervades much of both Carol Ann Duffy’s and Sheenagh Pugh’s poetry, in literal and allegorical terms. Various devices and imagery are used in order to convey this concept, having varying effects on the reader, which will be analysed in the subsequent paragraphs.

The theme of travelling is present in ‘Originally’ by Duffy, in which physical translocation (specifically emigration) is depicted through such nouns as “country,” “emigration,” and “accent,” and such verbs as “rushed back,” “fell through,” and “leaving you standing.” The latter phrase features two present continuous verbs, suggesting a sense of progression which contradicts the actual meaning of the verb ‘standing’, which functions as an adjective, communicating a lack of movement. This dichotomy reflects Duffy’s own unease regarding her own relocation during her childhood, in which she moved from Glasgow, Scotland to Stafford, England when she was six years old. This had a profound effect on her poetry, with references to travel palpable not only in the current poem but also in others like ‘In Mrs Tilscher’s Class’ (“You ran through the gates, impatient to be grown”), ‘Who Loves You’ (“travelling in those mystical machines”,) ‘River’ (“At the turn of the river the language changes”), ‘The Way My Mother Speaks’ (The train this slow evening / goes down England”), and ‘In Your Mind’ (“The other country”).

Moreover, enjambment is utilised throughout the poem; for example,

“Do I only / think / I lost a river, culture, speech” in order to visually represent flow, reflecting the physical sense of movement in a journey. However, use of enjambment (often followed by caesura) also interrupts the meaning of the lines since the words are not contained on one line therefore their meanings are spread across multiple lines, forming another dichotomy like the aforementioned one. These two dualities convey to the reader that there are two sides to every journey: the positivity and optimism of a new journey, and the negativity and regret of leaving one’s past behind. The reader responds to this by perceiving the emotional qualities of the concept of journey and perhaps relate Duffy’s experiences onto their own, thus they begin to identify more with Duffy’s poetic explorations of journey; because, as has been stated, Duffy features journey in her work often, the reader’s identification with the concept makes her considerably more accessible, and so her non-journey-related social commentaries are more likely to be read and explored by the reader.

There are several references to travelling in ‘In Mrs. Tilscher’s Class’, including

“You could travel up the Blue Nile,” which features the modal verb ‘could’ to demonstrate the vast array of possibilities individuals have appertaining travel in the modern world. This builds an aura of wonder and mental fantasy as the reader imagines where they could travel, reflecting the wonder children experience whilst learning in school. Proper nouns, namely,

“Tana. Ethiopia. Khartoum. Aswan” also convey this sense of endless potential voyages. However, as is of

ten the case with her work, Duffy intentionally limits this effect by only referring to locations in

Sorry, but full essay samples are available only for registered users

Choose a Membership Plan
Africa, since Tana is in Ethiopia, Khartoum in Sudan, and Aswan in Egypt. This makes the reader reconsider whether travel is really worthwhile; this is of course poignant bearing in mind Duffy’s own experience with travel, because, at such a young age, moving miles away from home is an anxious event, thus Duffy is warning readers to truly evaluate relocation due to its potential psychologically traumatic effects.

A somewhat inverted sentiment is expressed in Pugh’s ‘Birmingham Navigation graffiti’, in which she includes adjectives like “smoke-blackened,” “lurid,” “jaundiced” and “gangrenous” to depict the dilapidated state of Birmingham. Pugh does so to communicate her disdain for Birmingham, where she grew up but later moved away from. Unlike Duffy who warns against relocation, Pugh is positive that she moved away from her birthplace; for example, the fact that the noun “graffiti” is in lower-case is intended to chastise the overly prominent visual pollution, which no doubt galvanised Pugh’s strong dislike for big cities. While Duffy expresses a rather mono-faceted opinion of travel, Pugh’s is more ambiguous; she is in favour of counter-urban (that is, rural) travel, but not urban travel.

In the second stanza, “You see” precedes space, followed by a new line, suggesting that visitors to Birmingham struggle to find anything aesthetically worthwhile to comment on. Pugh then completes the sentence, with “towns’ backsides” which portrays the view of industrialised towns highly negatively, since the noun ‘backside’ is usually associated with faeces. This evocative imagery makes the reader picture the forsaken state of the city, so they are more likely to align with Pugh’s disdainful view. The concept of physical journey is typical in many of Pugh’s poems, for example she includes Scandanavian proper nouns often in the collection, ‘What a Place to Grow Flowers’ in the titles of such poems as ‘Men growing flowers: Hveragerdi’, ‘Ingthor the chanter’, ‘The flute-playing at Skalholt’ and ‘Going back to Hlidarendi’ and also refers to travel in the ‘Earth Studies’ collection in such poems as ‘After I came back from Iceland’ (“When I got back to Heathrow”) and ‘Harbours’ (“over the glittering road you should have gone to your true harbour”). Disillusion with the aesthetically disappointing state of Britain during the highly-industrialised, Thatcher-run ’80s influenced Pugh to travel abroad and write about the liberating effects of foreign journey, and her evocative language and simile such as “how breathing was like drinking cold water” encourages readers to travel abroad to enjoy these experiences.

In “In Mrs. Tilscher’s Class” the number of travel-related ideas diminishes as the poem progresses, conveying, in her eyes, the lack of imagination and exploration the children in the poem face as they grow up. This links strongly to the theme of maturity.

Running parallel to the theme of physical journey is that of journey from innocence and youth to knowledge and maturity, which is explored in ‘Religion 1’, wherein the transition from nescience to knowledge is depicted through the subtle sexual reference of,

“some thing / well-shaped; uncommon; fashioned to their liking.” Needless to say, this is a reference to temptation in the Garden of Eden in the Genesis story of Adam and Eve, and the use of the nonspecific adverb ‘some’ suggests lack of knowledge, which is antithetical to the subsequent knowledge they experience; the verb ‘know’ (present in the subsequent poem in ‘Selected Poems’, ‘History 1’) can mean, in a Biblical sense, ‘copulate’, thus this is a subtle reference to sexual maturity and discovery.

Unlike in many of her earlier works, predominantly those in Standing Female Nude such as ‘Oppenheim’s Cup and Saucer’ and ‘Girlfriends’, Duffy similarly uses subtle references to sexual maturity in ‘In Mrs. Tilscher’s Class’ in which she mentions “inky tadpoles” which can be interpreted as a metaphor for sperm cells, which resemble tadpoles. This symbolism conveys the growing children’s sexual maturity, and in the context of the poem which intends to paint a picture of every reader’s experience of growing up and school-life through use of the generic second-person pronoun, “you”, how sexual maturity is an integral part of growing up. Dissimilar to in ‘Originally’, this poem uses less enjambment and more full-stops and commas at the ends of lines; this is significant since the former poem is primarily about a literal journey, and the latter a figurative journey, therefore the diminished presence of enjambment suggests that growing up is a less smooth-flowing journey than relocation. This makes reader more likely to identify with this poem because everyone experiences adolescence but not everyone relocation, so Duffy’s work is more appreciated and, as has been mentioned, her social messages are reached by a wider audience.

We can write a custom essay on

How Duffy and Pugh Explore the Concept of ‘J ...
According to Your Specific Requirements.

Order an essay

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

A Filipino Metamorphosis - Poetry Essay Reviewing

Once upon a time there was a poet who woke up and found himself turned into ''some kind of animal''. It was dog-like with sharp teeth, whiskers, a hand becoming a paw, a voice with a ''keening sound''; it scratched and rooted around in the soil with a swishing tail. The creature still maintained another 'self', the voice of a more human consciousness, yet could suddenly understand everything: "the birds saying something about sadness, the dogs discussing sunlight. '' By the end of the experience in the poem (Persona) he realized that his 'animal' self was just one of his many selves and was ready to introduce them. This is one of the imaginative conceits that Joel M. Toledo chooses in his new book 'The Long Lost Startle'. He uses it to engage with that post-modern pursuit: 'Naming of Parts', to quote the title of the famous poem. Like Henry...

The Water Dragon

The theme I chose for this poetry project was fantasy. I chose this theme because I really enjoy fantasy and it inspires me, and it's a subject filled with wondrous surprises. I like reading books about fantasy, and the many different mystical creatures they are based on. Fantasy means a lot to me, because it's the main subject I like to illustrate. I have liked fantasy since I was little, and I believe I will always enjoy the mysteries that come with it. One of the poems I chose to include in my project was "The Water Dragon", written by Anne Johnson. I thought this poem was very well written, and I liked how it rhymed, because it made it more enjoyable to read. While reading this poem, I tried visually picturing the Water Dragon and the narrator who feared her. I believe the author's use of words and well-detailed...

"Tonight I Can Write" by Pablo Neruda...

Now it seems to me that love of some kind is the only possible explanation of the extraordinary amount of suffering that there is in the world. The reason that there is so much suffering in the world is because people still love and care for each other. The love which is shared by the people bonds them and hence makes their hearts wrung and suffer. This essay explores the emotion that is love and its connotations in situations where a lover suffers due to the immeasurable love which he feels for his beloved. The House of the Spirits is an epic novel of love, magic, and family pride. Initially, the novel was rejected by several Spanish-language publishers, but became an instant best seller when published in Barcelona in 1982. The book was first conceived by Isabel Allende when she received news that her grandfather was dying, and she began...

Popular Essays


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?