Resources on poetry by the poets themselves

Poems about Relationships

Here are 3 poems by Carol Ann Duffy about unusual relationships. The first is between a Crow and a Scarecrow; the second between Fire and Ice; and the third between a Girl and a Tree.

A CROW AND A SCARECROW

A crow and a scarecrow fell in love
out in the fields.
The scarecrow’s heart was a stuffed leather glove
but his love was real.
The crow perched on the stick of a wrist
and opened her beak:
Scarecrow, I love you madly, deeply.
Speak.

Crow, rasped the Scarecrow, hear these words
from my straw throat.
I love you too
from my boot to my hat
by way of my old tweed coat.
Croak.
The crow crowed back,
Scarecrow, let me take you away
to live in a tall tree.
I’ll be a true crow wife to you
if you’ll marry me.

The Scarecrow considered.
Crow, tell me how
a groom with a broomstick spine
can take a bride.
I know you believe in the love
in these button eyes
but I’m straw inside
and straw can’t fly.

The crow pecked at his heart
with her beak
then flapped away,
and back and forth she flew to him
all day, all day,
until she pulled one last straw
from his tattered vest
and soared across the sun with it
to her new nest.

And there she slept, high in her tree,
winged, in a bed of love.
Night fell.
The slow moon rose
over a meadow,
a heap of clothes,
two boots,
an empty glove.

CAROL ANN DUFFY
(from The Oldest Girl In The World, Faber, ISBN 0-571-20576-3)

THE DUKE OF FIRE AND THE DUCHESS OF ICE

Passionate love for the Duke of Fire
the Duchess of Ice felt.
One kiss was her heart’s desire,
but with one kiss she would melt.

She dreamed of him in his red pantaloons,
in his orange satin blouse,
in his crimson cravat,
in his tangerine hat,
in his vermilion dancing shoes.

One kiss, one kiss,
lips of flame on frost,
one kiss, pure bliss,
and never count the cost.

She woke. She went to the bathroom.
She took a freezing shower-
her body as pale as a stalagmite,
winter’s frailest flower.

The the Duke of Fire stood there,
radiant, ablaze with love,
and the Duchess of Ice cared nothing
for anything in the world.

She spoke his name,
her voice was snow,
kissed him, kissed him again,
and in his warm, passionate arms
turned to water, tears, rain.

CAROL ANN DUFFY

(from Meeting Midnight, Faber, ISBN 0571201202)

GIRL AND TREE

A girl fell in love with a tree
and a tree with a girl.
Holding the tree in her arms, the girl said
Tree, I love you best in the world.
Why, said the tree, do you love me so?
Because of the green of your leaves, said the girl.

The girl climbed up into the tree
and sat on a branch, dangling her legs.
Girl, girl, I love you best, believe me please,
whispered the tree.
Why, said the girl, do you love best me?
Because of your cherry-red dress, said the tree.

Then the wind blew and the tree’s green sails
breathed and gasped and filled with air
and the wood of the tree creaked like a ship
and the girl was Captain there.

Only the moon, agog with light,
saw the girl and the tree that night
when the whole town, in full pursuit,
came with dogs and searched the woods
where a smiling girl in a cherry-red dress
slept in the arms of a tree, like fruit.

CAROL ANN DUFFY
(from Meeting Midnight, Faber, ISBN 0571201202)

To go with the above 3 poems by Carol Ann Duffy is the following poem about the relationship between the Wind and the Moon by George MacDonald (1824-1905) :

THE WIND AND THE MOON

Said the Wind to the Moon,”I will blow you out;
You stare
In the air
Like a ghost in a chair,
Always looking what I am about-
I hate to be watched; I’ll blow you out.’

The Wind blew hard, and out went the Moon.
So deep
On a heap
Of clouds to sleep,
Down lay the Wind, and slumbered soon,
Muttering low, “I’ve done for that Moon.”

He turned in his bed; she was there again!
On high
In the sky,
With her one ghost eye,
The Moon shone shite and alive and plain.
Said the Wind, “I will blow you out again.”

The Wind he took to his revels once more;
On down
In town,
Like a merry-mad clown.
He leaped and hallooed with whistle and roar-
“What’s that?” the glimmering thread once more!

He flew in a rage- he danced and blew;
But in vain
Was the pain
Of his bursting brain;
For still the broader the Moon-scrap grew,
The broader he swelled his big cheeks and blew.

Slowly she grew- till she filled the night,
And shone
On her throne
In the sky alone,
A matchless, wonderful silvery light,
Radiant and lovely, the queen of the night.

The Wind blew hard, and the Moon grew dim.
“With my sledge
And my wedge,
I have knocked off her edge!
If only I blow right fierce and grim,
The creature will soon be dimmer than dim.”

He blew and he blew, and she thinned to a thread.
“One puff
More’s enough
To blow her to snuff!
One good puff more where the last was bred,
And glimmer, glimmer, glum will go the thread.”

He blew a great blast, and the thread was gone.
In the air
Nowhere
Was a moonbeam bare;
Far off and harmless the shy stars shone-
Sure and certain the Moon was gone!

Said the Wind: ‘What a marvel of power am I!
With my breath
God faith!
I blew her to death-
First blew her away right out of the sky-
Then blew her in; what strength have I!”

But the Moon she knew nothing about the affair;
For high
In the sky,
With her one white eye,
Motionless, miles above the air,
She had never heard the great Wind blare.

GEORGE MacDONALD

WORKSHOP ACTIVITY

Read these poems to the class and discuss the various relationships. Ask the class to suggest other pairings- Land and Sea, Thunder and Lightning, Spider and Fly and so on. Some of the relationships may be positive and some negative! Once everyone has chosen or been given a pair, get each pupil to write a poem about that pair’s relationship. Point out that not all of the poems you’ve read rhyme- and that the pupils need not worry about having to rhyme. It is more important to imagine and write about their pair!