“The Windows”

In January 1992, between “Room” and “Nostalgia,” Carol Ann Duffy wrote “The Windows.” When I read the poem for the first time, it struck me as a very lonely poem. The only other people in the poem besides the narrator (a child or a lover) are seemingly imagined. The second thing about the poem that struck me was the reference to “It’s a Wonderful Life,” an iconic Christmastime movie. Duffy’s manuscripts indicate that she wrote “The Windows” on January 15, 1992. It seems that Duffy was inspired by recent events. After further inspection of the poem, I wondered if it was about somebody who lost a family member or friend and subsequently his or her life. The first three stanzas of the poem is in present time, while the last two stanzas seem to be a memory of the narrator’s past life. Hyacinths are flowers that bloom in spring (between March and April) which contradicts the earlier reference to “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

I was intrigued when I saw that the poem was written in January. I wondered if the narrator is Duffy, what was going on in Duffy’s life at the time, and what was going on in the world that might have inspired her to write this poem. I attempted to do further research which seems fruitless at present.

My trip to MARBL inspired me to do more research on my own about the poem. Even though I wasn’t able to easily identify any connections between Duffy’s life and the poem, it was good that I was interested enough to do research for something not assigned in class. I think that this assignment helped me to respect poetry more in general because I was able to see the amount creativity required to write a poem that people can connect to. Even a simple phrase like “steaming casseroles and red wine” can elicit memories in many people. “The Windows” is clearly another outpouring of Duffy’s emotions; there are few edits and no notes or organizational tools before she writes the poem and simply re-writes the poem before moving on to the next poem, “Nostalgia.”


2 Comments on ““The Windows””

  1. Candice Bang says:

    Jessica, I felt the same desire to learn more about Duffy’s life after reading poems from the manuscript. I often found myself trying to imagine what circumstances Duffy must’ve been in in order to be inspired to write such words. It also made me respect Duffy because if the circumstances didn’t have as much to do with her words than just a natural outpouring of her own thoughts, I would find that really impressive.

  2. Ani Deshpande says:

    It is very interesting to note how current events or the happenings in someone’s personal lives can seep into the art they produce. It can provide us with a window into their personal lives. It is interesting how you mentioned it was written in January and how it is such a “lonely” sounding poem. I always think of winter as a very bleak time where one can be lonely since they are trapped looking out of a window in their snowed in house. I think the weather or time of year is of great importance and could have certainly affected Duffy’s poem.