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Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time

30. Adultery

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About this Lecture


In this module, we read through the twenty-ninth poem in the collection, 'Adultery', focusing in particular on: (i) the sense in which this poem represents a 'climax' of the previous four poems, which have all been about love, sex and relationships; (ii) the structure of the poem, and the echoes of previous poems, e.g. the "innocent onions" evoking the onion in 'Valentine'; (iii) the repetitiveness and boredom of old relationships; (iv) the symbolism of the moon, and the metaphor of spoons; (v) the meaning of the phrase "your heart over-ripe at the core"; (vi) the importance of writing all these experiences down ("So write the script"); and (vii) the meaning of the final stanza of the poem.


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Carol Ann Duffy’s 1993 collection, ‘Mean Time'. After an introductory module in which we think about the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy in general and the collection as a whole – and especially the implications of its title – the course continues with a reading and analysis of each of the thirty-nine poems in the collection, one by one.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2021, March 01). Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time - Adultery [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time – Adultery." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 01 Mar 2021,