MARBL: “Elvis’s Twin Sister”Posted: November 30, 2011
Unless you’re a diehard fan of Elvis Presley (like my aunt, who must have over a thousand pieces of Elvis memorabilia in her house), many people are unaware that the legendary King of Rock and Roll had a twin sibling. Jesse Garon Presley was delivered thirty-five minutes after his brother, stillborn, leaving Elvis an only child. While this undoubtedly had an enormous impact on Elvis’s personal life and subsequent career, the idea of a Presley twin inspired Carol Ann Duffy to write… “Elvis’s Twin.” But of course, in Duffian fashion as is topical for The World’s Wife, the subject and speaker of the poem is the fictional twin sister of Elvis.
In the first MARBL manuscript copy of “Elvis Twin” (originally titled as such, later re-titled “Elvis’s Twin Sister”), Duffy’s first written instruction to herself is simple and self-explanatory: “get lyrics.” And that she does, as all versions of the poem contain many direct quotations from some of Elvis’s most popular hits. Thus, it is impossible to analyze Duffy’s words without taking into account Elvis’s as well. In such a collection of poems that ranges from the fictional to the non-fictional, the use of song lyrics combined with the irony of Elvis having a twin sister categorizes the poem as somewhere in between. Suffice it to say, the lyrical references in “Elvis’s Twin Sister,” truly do make up the meat and potatoes of the poem. While earlier versions of the poem originally meant to include allusions to “Hound Dog” and a few other songs, Duffy still puts great emphasis on the words from “Are you Lonesome Tonight?”, “Heartbreak Hotel,” and “Lawdy,” of which the latter two comprise the poem’s concluding, resounding verse.
It is interesting to note that the poem used to have a completely different structure and order of verses, with the aforementioned final verse positioned at the beginning of the poem, instead of the end. However, one aspect that is consistently consistent is the “sing-song” tone of the poem that reads like the lyrics of an old 50s/60s rock song. But of course, lyrics truly are just another form of poetry, with some accompanying music on the side as well. Duffy may have went through multiple drafts of “Elvis’s Twin Sister,” but the message remains the same throughout: “Lawdy, I’m [Elvis? Jesse? The “sister”?] alive and well.”