Form and Structure

The poem consists of 7 stanzas, each measuring an equal 10 lines. There is no rhyme scheme within the poem, Duffy instead of creating a metrical rhythm , this is conveyed through the use internal rhyme and enjambment. The regimented structure within the poem could be a reflection of how women have been excluded from these historic events. It’s been said that the 7 stanza structure bears reference to the 7 days of the week, Duffy using this idea to suggest that the female exclusion from history is an occurrence that happens every day and has never changed.


Sub is a poem in which Carol Ann Duffy moves through different male success stories in which Duffy becomes a ‘sub’ for a key successful male from history or a member of a successful male team. She begins by exploring key sporting triumphs before progressing to partaking in The Beatles, the moon landing, and more. Alongside her achievements in all of these fields, there is always an underlying reference to the feminine body, and how their bodies restrict women and how she has to hide it (e.g. being pregnant).

This can be directly referenced through quotes such as ‘my breasts’ or discussing fertility through periods and birth. Duffy suggests that a woman who achieves in life or sport has an uphill struggle and a disadvantage due to the female body, fighting through notions of woman’s place in order to thrive in society. Duffy only mentions masculine aspects of history, to clearly show how women have been excluded from these moments. This being due to male dominance and the expectation thrust upon females leading to them being widely ignored within society.

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