Selected Poems is a collection of poetry chosen by Carol Ann Duffy from her first four acclaimed novels: Standing Female Nude, Selling Manhattan, The Other Country, and Mean Time (winner of the Whitbread Poetry Award).
New Selected Poems contains poems chosen by Carol Ann Duffy from her first six acclaimed collections, from Standing Female Nude to Feminine Gospels, and a handful of other poems collected here for the first time. Endlessly varied and wonderfully inventive, this volume is the perfect introduction for new listeners, the essential selection for students, and a glorious sum of parts for old acquaintances.
On a frosty winter evening, the Baron watches the snow fall. He is bored and worried. It will soon be Christmas, and everything is too quiet. What can he do to bring excitement to the Manor? His wife, the Baroness, has an idea: he can appoint a King of Christmas, a peasant to take his place. And so begin twelve days of chaos, anarchy and merriment....
It is a cold day in Ireland, the 26th of December; frost lies thick on the blackthorn. A man walks the just-waking village, banging on every door, summoning the boys. Today is St. Stephen's Day, when legend has it that the Saint was betrayed by a wren's call, and the boys are off to the forest where they hope to find the traitorous bird and capture it by nightfall. But what will they do if their prey escapes them?
Down at the Front, on a cold winter's night in 1914, amidst the worst war the world had ever seen, an inexplicable silence spread from man to man. Belief was in the air. Then the soldiers ceased fire and the magic of Christmas took hold....
It's the night before Christmas and a young girl creeps down the stairs, determined to find out for certain whether Santa is real...But try as she might, she can't keep awake and is soon fast asleep. She doesn't stir, even when Santa and his reindeer land on her roof-top - but then, when he bursts out of her fireplace, she wakes to a room filled with magic. As she watches him fly off into the night, she knows that she will never forget this sight because, at Christmas, the best gift of all is belief.
Bethlehem is normally a quiet little town on the edge of the desert. But tonight, as dusk falls, there is a sense of something special in the air. An inn packed with revellers, shepherds sprawled on the grass, animals in their stables: everything will be changed when a bright star bearing news arrives in the sky. Carol Ann Duffy's evocative poem will transport you to Bethlehem, capturing the sights, the sounds and the atmosphere of this ancient and magical place.
Beginning with the King's Cook, who is preparing a sumptuous Christmas Pie, Wenceslas takes us to a medieval feast. The lords and ladies are at their places, the wine is in full flow, the musicians are playing in the gallery and the entertainment has begun. All should be perfect. But when the good King looks up from his table he sees something more than just snow, falling deep and crisp and even....
With her husband, Ebenezer, now 'doornail dead', the coldest Christmas Eve on record finds Mrs Scrooge outside the supermarket, protesting against consumerism and waste. 'Spoilsport!' shout the passersby as they load up their shopping carts with Christmas goodies. Just as Ebenezer did, Mrs Scrooge keeps to her frugal ways...but with the current state of the world, perhaps Mrs Scrooge has the right idea.
It is Christmas Eve, 1799, and Dorothy Wordsworth is awake in the dead of night. She stands outside in the winter cold, waiting patiently. When the new day breaks, it will bring family and friends to Dorothy's door. For tomorrow is a double joy: tomorrow is her Christmas birthday. Carol Ann Duffy's wonderful poem 'Dorothy Wordsworth's Christmas Birthday' takes us to the frozen landscape of the Lake District, where a merry celebration is about to begin in the Wordsworths' cottage.