Form and Structure
The poem is written in sonnet form, with the poem measuring 14 lines in total. Typically, the sonnet form is used to discuss love or death, with Duffy reflecting on her lost past, there’s a lot of emotive language. Duffy avoids the traditional sonnet rhyme scheme, by only having one rhyme in the entire poem. In doing so Duffy further compounds the sense of melancholy that North-West holds. The structure draws upon a historic form to contemplate the loss of her past.
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.