-The Cord-

Form and Structure

The poem consists of six stanzas, each measuring 6 lines. There is no rhyme scheme, although Duffy’s use of enjambment allows the poem to flow rhythmically from one line to another. The quick pace of the poem due to the enjambment could reflect the process of Duffy’s daughter, Ella, growing up and leaving her. Duffy uses this to show although the physical connection between them is severed, their mental connection will always be present. With the poem written for her daughter, Duffy wants to send the message to her daughter, that no matter the circumstances (be it location or other circumstances) Duffy will always be there to support her.


The poem focuses on the umbilical cord (The cord that connects the developing foetus with the placenta while the foetus is in the uterus). The poem begins by focusing on the moment in which they ‘cut the cord’, severing the physical link between the poet and her daughter. As the child grows, she remains curious about this ‘cord’, wondering if it was a real thing or just something Duffy made up. 

She listens to the story of it being buried in the forest, which intrigues her and leads to her eventually venturing out into the ‘Great Forest’. This could represent the child moving out of her mother’s home into the real world. Duffy’s daughter can always rely on the connection between mother and daughter remaining strong wherever the daughter goes.

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