Carol Ann Duffy : Dark School
I found this by accident on the web and I was immediately struck by the Dickensian aspect of this gloomy revisitation of the past. What is the 'school' the poet has elected to revisit- if indeed any choice was involved?
Everything means something else in this tribute to the displacements of life and like Dickens' Bleak House and Blakes' Songs of Innocence and Experience there is a weariness of tone which underlines the emotional cost of experience and perhaps the failures of education to prepare us for the rigours of existence.
However despite the weight of loss the poet finds an acknowledgement too; 'soft scars on the wood'. Experience testifies to our survival and forebearance. And then the 'insolent truant stars' can 'squander their light' ...a provoking image of defiance and individualism. Are these lights representative of the poet's lost intimates or the aspirations that remain tantalisingly beyond any atttempt at control and mastery? The final image does suggest the 'beyond' of any schooling or educational experience. Originality has its own light despite any efforts to control it?