‘Originally’ by Carol Ann Duffy has a continual theme of cultural identity, focusing on Duffy’s roots and the significant childhood memory of the move her and her family made from Scotland to England. ‘Originally’ is cleverly written in an adult manner yet with a child speaker, giving the reader both insight on the child’s experience and the adult recalling it. It reveals Duffy’s fear as a child of losing her identity and the struggle she goes through trying to retain it whilst being forced to leave her native country and move to the unknown.
Visually the poem is free verse with no regular pattern. It includes three stanzas with eight lines each, including mainly lines of ten syllables with accent in the first syllable of each pair of syllables.
Stanzas one and two focus on the sadness of the reality that they are being forced to move. The speakers’ home is now none existent, their new home only “vacant rooms” (l. 6) in an unfamiliar territory. Early on the personas of the poem are established “We/Our mother” (ll. 1-2) suggests a family, deepening the sadness as it becomes clear that it is more than one person’s life being disrupted. Although identity is thematically at the centre of the poem, there is a definite reluctance to use the personal pronoun as a fixed indicator to pronounce the idea of self-existent subjectivity. “We came from our own country” (l. 1) implies that the speaker’s family have a personal attachment with the place, mirroring the fact the place they used to live was more than just a home, taking an emotive effect on the reader causing them to sympathise with the speaker.
The alliteration “fell through the fields” (l. 2) stresses the rush of them moving destination, there well-loved home is now merely a memory of the past. “our mother singing / our father’s name to the turn of the wheels” (ll. 2-3) clarifies the fact the family are travelling whilst also portraying a optimistic image, a family travelling merrily to their new home. A...