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Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time

23. Never Go Back

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In this module, we read through the twenty-second poem in the collection, 'Never Go Back', focusing in particular on: (i) the contrast between the central theme in this poem and the several poems about memory and nostalgia we've had so far, e.g. 'Beachcomber', 'Nostalgia', 'Stafford Afternoons', etc.; (ii) the misery of the past, which includes alcoholism, cancer and death; (iii) the use of language, including the little internal rhymes ("All the lies told here, and all the cries of love"); (iv) the idea of "sly" sums of money; and (v) the 'moral' 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 - Never Go Back [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time – Never Go Back." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 01 Mar 2021,

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