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Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife

18. Mrs Lazarus

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the eighteenth poem in the collection, 'Mrs Lazarus', focusing in particular on: (i) the figure of Lazarus in the Gospel of John in the Bible; (ii) the various smells of the poem – the "hot tang of the crowd", the "stench" of the resurrected Lazarus, etc.; (iii) the contrast between the joy felt by the crowd ("the village men running towards me, shouting") and the horror felt by the Lazaruses themselves ("I saw the horror on his face"); (iv) the recurrence of the theme of 'Be careful what you wish for' in the collection (cf. 'Mrs Midas', 'Mrs Faust'); and (v) the wonderful phrase "the grave's slack chew".


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Carol Ann Duffy’s 1999 collection, 'The World's Wife'. After a brief introduction to the collection as a whole, the course continue with a read-through and analysis of each of the thirty 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. (2020, April 28). Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife - Mrs Lazarus [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Carol Ann Duffy: The World's Wife – Mrs Lazarus." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 28 Apr 2020,