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Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time

19. Moments of Grace

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About this Lecture


In this module, we read through the eighteenth poem in the collection, 'Moments of Grace', focusing in particular on: (i) the theme (once again) of memory and remembered moments; (ii) the counterintuitive idea of the present haunting the past ("It seems we live in those staggering years only to haunt them"); (iii) the negativity of the present compared to the positivity of the past ("These days we are adjectives, nouns. In moments of grace we were verbs"); (iv) the evocation of the caul from 'Caul' in "the thin skin" that lies on the language; and (v) the idea of the ultimate inaccessibility of the past, cf. the delving back into memory in 'Beachcomber' ("You remember the cardigan. But this is as close as you get.").


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 - Moments of Grace [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

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