Education for Leisure by Carol Ann Duffy

  • Added:
    Feb 02, 2013
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Carol Ann Duffy at Humber Mouth 2009
Carol Ann Duffy at Humber Mouth 2009
Photo by Maggie Hannan

Carol Ann Duffy was born in Glasgow in 1955. Her poetry can be divided into two main categories: dramatic monologues and love poetry. Her dramatic monologues usually deal with problems in contemporary Britain, such as unemployment, gender issues, prejudice against minority groups, etc. She is one of Britain`s most popular and outspoken poets, and in 1999 she was a leading contender for the post as poet laureate. Prime Minister Tony Blair, however, chose a less adventurous poet.   In this article I am going to analyze her poem “Education for Leisure”.  

Education for Leisure  

Today I am going to kill something.

Anything. I have had enough of being ignored and today I am going to play God.

It is an ordinary day, a sort of grey with boredom stirring in the streets.  

A squash a fly against the window with my thumb. We did that at school. Shakespeare.

It was in another language and now the fly is in another language.

I breathe out talent on the glass to write my name.   I am a genius.

I could be anything at all, with half the chance.

But today I am going to change the world. Something`s world.

The cat avoids me. The cat knows I am a genius, and has hidden itself.  

I pour the goldfish down the bog. I pull the chain. I see that it is good. The budgie is panicking.

Once a fortnight, I walk the two miles into town for signing on. They don`t appreciate my autograph.  

There is nothing left to kill.

I dial the radio and tell the man he`s talking to a superstar. He cuts me off.

I get out bread-knife and go out.

The pavements glitter suddenly.

I touch your arm.  

“Education for Leisure” by Carol Ann Duffy   The poem explores the mind of a disturbed person who is planning to kill anything, as long as it becomes enough dramatic. Obviously he/she wants attention and not to be ignored, because of the reason that no one is noticing him/her”. I have had enough of being ignored and today I am going to play God”.

I get a sense of graveness in this poem, a person who is dying to do something to get attention and to feel important. Somehow I believe that the speaker is unemployed. He/she is an important person but people do not realize that. And the person wants to do something, anything like talking “education for Leisure” just to have something to do.   The speaker is arrogant about his/her talent so much that he/she sees education as some leisure activity. The speaker does not take the education seriously because he/she feels that they are genius and too good for education.  

The words that contributes to the speaker`s tone is for instance “I am a genius, I breathe out talent on the glass to write my name” which gives the expression that the speaker is talented and important person who knows and can do everything and is too good for education. It also gives the expression that the speaker is arrogant, proud of what he/she is.   The theme of the poem is criminal acts, killing to get attention “Today I am going to kill something. Anything”. He is a genius,” the cat knows I am a genius”. He is good on what he is doing which is killing. Relating the title to the theme is by connecting that he is too good for education that he takes education for leisure. He is already talented and he is just doing it because he is unemployed and does not have better things to do.          

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