The draft versus the published introduction in “Penelope”Posted: December 1, 2011
One of the interesting things that I found in MARBL on the poem “Penelope” was an entirely different introductory verse. Although some portions of the draft exist in the published version of the poem I think that examining what the poem would have gained versuses lost will help readers understand more about Duffy’s writing style and the poem. The drafted introductory verse that is written inside of Duffy’s notebook reads as follows:
For twenty years I sewed my tapestry by day
at night unpicked it.
I knew which hour of the dark the moon
Would start to fray,
I stitched it.
Blue threads and green
Followed my needle’s leaping fish to form a river that would never reach the sea.
I tricked it.
I thought that this was an extraordinary introduction and I question why Duffy decided not to use it in her published version. I thought that maybe her editing drafts were thoughts of what came to mind. For instance, if anyone can recall the story of the Odyssey you are aware that it took 20 years for Odysseus to return home. So maybe Duffy began with the basics and then expanded. Furthermore, I begin to examine why she used the draft she did more closely and what better way to start then with the published introduction.
At first, I looked along the road
hoping to see him saunter home
among the olive trees,
a whistle for the dog
who mourned him with his warm head on my knees.
Six months of this
And then I noticed whole days had passed
Without my noticing.
I sorted cloth and scissors, needle, thread,
After examining the two verses I could see some of the strengths in Duffy using the published verse. She already knew she was creating a “different type of volume,” so if she would have kept the original verse it might have been more cliché. However, the published version really allows the reader to understand Penelope’s hope for her husband to return as opposed to making a poem out of the story the readers are familiar with. By doing so Duffy creates a more emotional and personal image of Penelope. Other than this revision there were few revisions in “Penelope.” Once again, I am left with the conclusion that Duffy is a very careful and skilled thinker which reflects in her writings.