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Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time

16. Away and See

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About this Lecture


In this module, we read through the fifteenth poem in the collection, 'Away and See', focusing in particular on: (i) the Scottish idiom "away and…"; (ii) the themes of adventure, seeing the world, and of poetry itself ("the flight of syllables, wingspan stretching a noun"); (iii) the extent to which this poem represent the emergence of the fully-fledged poet after the poems of birth and childhood that we have seen up to now, e.g. 'Stafford Afternoons', 'Welltread', 'The Good Teachers', 'Caul'; (iv) the contrast between the adventure had by the speaker in this poem and the adventure had by the speaker's caul (and therefore not the speaker) in the previous poem, 'Caul'; (v) the use of all the senses ("listen and touch, smell, believe"); (vi) the Scottish custom of first-footing; (vii) the meaning of the word "chaps"; (viii) the idea that the future is something to be sought after and embraced, rather than feared (cf. " I worry I’ll miss when a long time dead…" in 'The Cliché Kid'); and (ix) the (potentially) ironic comment that "nothing's the same as anything else", and the importance of comparison in poetry – simile, metaphor, etc.


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 - Away and See [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

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