North-West by Carol Ann Duffy is the penultimate poem in Duffy’s Feminine Gospels. The poem explores the nostalgia of her life, specifically growing up in Liverpool (where she went to University) and Duffy grew up and witnessed the rise of The Beatles first hand(with The Beatles being referenced). With the city having since changed from her original nostalgia.
- The word ‘however’ could reference an obstruction or anxiety that might in the past have prevented this return: ‘However it is we return to the water’s edge where the ferry grieves down by the Pier Head, we do what we always did and get on board’
- A reference to the ferry but also that the idea of Liverpool is fading in her mind and is no longer as it once was: ‘The city drifts out of reach’
- This is a reference of the famous liver-bird carving on the Mersey Chambers, a distinctive feature of the Liverpool skyline: ‘huge silvery bird’
- A reference to Duffy having had potential relationships whilst being in Liverpool: ‘a kiss on the lip of the wind, follows our ship’
- A reference to the uncertain nature of being a student and not being sure on the future, possibly representing Duffy’s own childhood carer uncertainty as a female poet: ‘This is where we were young, the place no map or heritage guide can reveal’
- A reference to the stereotypical children’s adventure stories, with the X on the map representing the treasure: ‘an X on a wave marks the spot’
- This is where the poem changes to the present ‘a grave for our ruined loves, unborn children, ghosts’
- This is a direct reference to the song “She Loves You” by The Beatles, representative of the era and the culture of the city of Liverpool at the time when Duffy was young: ‘Above our heads the gulls cry yeah yeah yeah’
- This is another reference to The Beatles as accompanied their songs with guitars. The ‘frets’ may appear like a huge guitar neck while the Mersey River is the body of the guitar: ‘Frets of the light on the river’
- This is a reference to either tears of happiness or sadness: ‘tearful air’
North-West by Carol Ann Duffy is the penultimate poem in Duffy’s Feminine Gospels. The poem explores the nostalgia of her life, specifically growing up in Liverpool (where she went to University). With the city having since changed from her original nostalgia, with the streets no longer resembling what she remembered from her childhood, meaning the city of Liverpool comes to embody the past. Duffy grew up and witnessed the rise of The Beatles first-hand. Despite this being a long time ago, Duffy never loses her connection to Liverpool, with the memories always present in her mind. Duffy focuses on images of change, and things that simply didn’t work out in her life filling North-West with depressing clarity.