The World’s Wife
In our group’s evaluation of Duffy’s two volumes using Voyant, we found that applying Cirrus to the two collections yielded some interesting results, especially in highlighting certain thematic differences between the two poetry collections. In the Cirrus depiction of both volumes together, there were certain groups of words that were all related to each other. We noticed that there were several body parts among the most frequently mentioned words, as well as several different colors. Along these body parts were “eyes,” “hands,” “face,” “head,” and “lips,” all of which appeared in the Cirrus collective depiction of the two books. The picture also included colors such as, “blue,” “black,” “red,” “gold,” and “white” which also marks a frequent theme in Duffy’s writing.
However, when we divided the two volumes and examined the separate Cirrus feedback, we saw a clear correspondence between the words that appear most often in each volume, and that volume’s corresponding themes. The words that appeared in the Mean Time Cirrus portrayal were often related to the themes of nostalgia and memory. These included words like “dream,” “home,” “time,” and “away” all of which seem to allude to the somewhat mournful tone that is so prevalent in the poems. The word “away” we found to be especially revealing in that it not only hints at the nostalgic perspective of the collection but also at the often grieving tone that Duffy seems to associate with constant change and the passage of time.
On the other hand, we came to realize that most of the colors that appeared in the common Cirrus depiction were especially important in the World’s Wife Cirrus picture, and completely absent in the Mean Time picture. We decided that this again related back to Duffy’s original assessment of her two collections. When she likened The World’s Wife to “popular entertainment” referring to the volume’s accessibility. In creative writing, especially poetry, color descriptions are considered the most basic and easy to comprehend. Describing the color of something is a concrete attribute that is both easy for the author to convey, and easy for the reader to imagine. Thus, it is not the most complex form of physical description. However, in Mean Time, many of the words in the Cirrus picture refer to light and darkness, and other more abstract forms of imagery. Describing something as dynamic as light is a much more difficult concept for a writer than describing the color of something. This again relates to the more complex tone and language that is included in Mean Time as opposed to the simplicity and accessibility that is found in The World’s Wife. Thus, using Cirrus we were able to further investigate Duffy’s original evaluation of her two poetry collections, using the digital tool to elaborate on our own observations.
While the two works of Carol Ann Duffy, The World’s Wife and Mean Time, appear to be different from a qualitative perspective, there also appears to be a difference in examining the texts quantitatively. By entering the words counts, character counts with and without spaces, lines per stanza, and other features of the poem and calculating their averages in Excel, we were able to find differences and similarities in the two works. This is expected because by pure length, The World’s Wife is a much longer work thanMean Time. This is somewhat surprising since one would expect the words to be longer. Most significantly, the average number of words varies between the two works. In Mean Time, the average is 183 words per poem, while in The World’s Wife, there are 350.6 words per poem. Therefore, this indicates that Mean Time has more concise poems than The Worlds’ Wife. Therefore, brevity may result in more poignant and focused poetry in Mean Time. Interestingly, the average number of characters per word is 4 for both works, signifying a similar writing style in word choices for the two works.
In examining the average number of lines per poem, the average is 23 for Mean Time, while there is a higher average, 53 lines, inThe World’s Wife. This suggests that the poems are more concise in length in Mean Time, although there are more poems in this collection. Further, the length varies more in The World’s Wife, as some poems, such as “The Devil’s Wife” is a number of pages, while “Mrs. Darwin” is only a few lines.
Despite Mean Time trying to convey more complex ideas, the average number of characters per word is still similar. Duffy writes more concise poems for “high” poetry, while The World’s Wife is more narrative.
In conclusion, by utilizing the tools available in examining Duffy’s two texts from a digital humanities lens, we are able to illuminate more of the differences between the two works and understand her poetry from a different perspective.
Candace, Chelsea, Danny, Joe, Martin
Voyant Links Analysis of Carol Ann Duffy Poems
After putting in just the physical body parts, we also attempted to add the connection to love. Before using Links, we as a group anticipated a greater connection between love and the physcial body in The World’s Wife than in Mean Time. After fiddling around with the tool for while, we drew mixed conclusions. While Mean Time, did not show a connection between body parts and love, The World’s Wife showed that love was directly connected with head, eyes, face, and breast. Furthermore, love was centrally placed between all the words.
Links would be a more useful tool if it could combine plural terms with its singular counterpart. It would also be more effective if it could incorporate words that are used to describe a concept— an idea not as tangible as words in the poem. For example, in World’s Wife Duffy describes women and men with drastically different diction. When describing the females in her poems she calls them “Tough as fuck, Beautiful, Rich, Wonderful, Drop-dead gorgeous, Bad girls, Serious ladies, The captive beautiful, Less-loving one, Self-contained, absorbed, content, Like the best of men…but twice as virtuous as them (68), Belles/ of the balls. Queens of the Smoke, Ballbrakers…Prickteasers, Dressed to kill, Swaggering”.
In looking at Word Trends, we examined how frequently words appeared between the two volumes.
We focused on the relationship between love and sex. These two terms, which are so often paired together when thinking about poetry, have an inverse relationship within Duffy’s work. When love appeared frequently, sex did not. This is probably due to the fact that “love” is used in a platonic sense in Mean Time, while not World’s Wife, where “sex” was used more often. In Mean Time, which largely focused on memory, love appeared frequently, referencing the platonic love of youth. However, sex, which appeared frequently in The World’s Wife, was often used in a passionless manner.
Even though each book discusses different themes, the term “eyes” show up to a consistent degree in both volumes. This reveals that Duffy, although talking about different topics, still uses consistent objects to get her argument across.
The word “like” (shown in the graph) shows up more in Mean Time, usually used in similes. This indicates that Mean Time uses more figurative language.
Taken on its own, this information is not entirely telling. This only shows differences in terms of actual word usage. It does not acknowledge stylistic differences or differences in meaning.
However, when we bring what we have discussed in class to the table, these discoveries take on greater meaning.
Count World Wife
NOTE: there may be a problem with the code I used. I’m not sure if the things listed properly. The lists may be off by 1 line
there are 1644 2 -letter words
there are 2144 3 -letter words
there are 1830 4 -letter words
there are 1475 5 -letter words
there are 1055 6 -letter words
there are 759 7 -letter words
there are 434 8 -letter words
there are 201 9 -letter words
there are 126 10 -letter words
there are 63 11 -letter words
there are 31 12 -letter words
there are 15 13 -letter words
there are 6 14 -letter words
there are 6 15 -letter words
there are 3 16 -letter words
there are 1 17 -letter words
there are 0 18 -letter words
there are 0 19 -letter words
there are 1036 2 -letter words
there are 1450 3 -letter words
there are 1287 4 -letter words
there are 1085 5 -letter words
there are 684 6 -letter words
there are 435 7 -letter words
there are 292 8 -letter words
there are 158 9 -letter words
there are 102 10 -letter words
there are 42 11 -letter words
there are 27 12 -letter words
there are 11 13 -letter words
there are 4 14 -letter words
there are 0 15 -letter words
there are 4 16 -letter words
there are 0 17 -letter words
there are 0 18 -letter words
there are 0 19 -letter words
Here’s a count of all the unique words in each book. It will work for getting an idea of how times different words are used, but it hasn’t been cleaned up and looks a little messy.
go to this link for attatchment
She tries to take it all in. The sea. The ships unfurling their sails. Peaces is upset. She sees him. Covered in a feathery vestige, performing what looks like a preflight checklist takeoff. What a bumbling idiot. Where does he think he’s going? The sun? This is got to be a joke.
He starts counting. One… Two.. Three…. Counts more steps. Carefully Measuring the length of the “runway” before him. Her face tightens up. Cheeks blush. A downward glance. No eye contact. The telltale signs of embarrassment. Flashing across as it becomes clear that this is not a joke. He’s going to make the jump in that deranged chicken suit. A weak laugh exits her body, releasing what remains of her dignity. She watches as “the man she married, prove to the world he’s a total, utter, absolute, grade A pillock.”
He pushes his feet against the wall. Shuffling them around vainly searching for the perfect placement. Because, obviously, that extra step is all he needs to make it to liftoff threshold. I doubt it made much difference.
Push off, a few long strides, the edge, a jump …………. outstretched arms ………..
Desperate thrashing…. Death?
No one was watching. Maybe they were too embarrassed to look.
I wonder if Duffy saw Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus* before she wrote Mrs. Icarus? I can almost see the embarrassment on Mrs. Icarus face as she watches her husband make an idiot of himself. Icarus’ leap in the painting was so remarkable in its brevity that I had trouble finding him floundering in the sea. Were those wings made of lead or something? He didn’t even make it to the first ship.
Duffy’s notes were like the other characters in this painting. Most poems were a labor of effort requireing multiple drafts, an occasional rhyme schemes and the addition of more explicit imagery. Like the farmer growing his crops or the shepherd tending to his sheep these poems took effort. Success didn’t fall from the sky.
Sandwiched between these “serious poems” was Mrs. Icarus. One Page. Thirty-Two, words scrawled in thick black ink on a slightly yellowed sheet of paper. 6 lines, no strikethroughs. Maybe one edit. “Grade A” looked like it was written in with thinner black pen?
Did this poem just jump out of her head like Icarus and land on the page? Are we missing some of her notes? What’s going on here? Did anyone else have a poem that was written without any edits or marks?
*wikipedia says that the authenticity of the painting has been brought into doubt, and that this may be a good copy of the original
The manuscripts on the poem Oslo were very limited unlike the manuscripts available for Little Red Cap. The draft I saw for Oslo was as a composed complete poem. There were only a few revisions in the draft. Either Duffy had a very clear and distinct vision for the poem Oslo, or it was her filler poem, or it came out almost exactly as she wanted it on her first writing, or we don’t have all of Duffy’s drafts for the poem, or I was not thorough enough. I have a feeling the last two options are the most likely. Out of the revisions many were simply omissions of extra phrases. Unfortunately to be completely honest, I could not decipher all of her revisions due to her handwriting. [I would be a terrible teacher for that reason alone]. For ones that I could make out they were simple substitutions of words such as across to over. I am guessing that Duffy feels that the latter word expresses what she intends better than before. The most interesting part of the manuscript was the top margin. Duffy was doing some basic arithmetic. She divided 50 by 4, multiplied 20 by 30, and multiplied 80 by 30. I do not know what meaning that might hold but literary scholars should try to find out. It seems it would be one of those cool House of Leaves-esque factoid. Overall the poem was pretty close to the one we have in our edition of Mean Time. Another thing I found interesting was how Duffy would go in and out of writing poems and writing seemingly meaningless sentences really sloppily in certain sections of her notebook. After Oslo there was a good section where she wrote things like “This is a really nice pen” or wrote one or two stanzas of poetry at best. This makes me think that she was either really busy, procrastinating, or had writer’s block. It leads me to further solidify my belief that Oslo was a filler poem since it was just before these scribbles. To know if this is true or not, call her.
This was the first time I would be looking at original manuscripts for pretty much any published work. I was half expecting some Hollywood style scriblings of a genius or something….epic. What I found was a lot more human. I was half disappointed and half thankful. I was disappointed because I did not get that cool feeling of “oh I am looking at something awesome worth millions of dollars” but I was glad to see that Duffy is a normal human being. In my scrummaging around in the folders for manuscripts for Little Red Cap I found a nice old brown envelope with a phone number for DHL. It is these little things [just like references in poetry] that remind you that the person is a normal human being which makes the end product all the more remarkable. I did not find lists of words to swap around like others have. I found what I would expect poetry drafts to be. They were fully composed poems that would slightly augment from one version to another to ultimately result in the final product we read….and then…I opened Box 2, Folder 18. What I saw shocked me. I still wake up in the middle of the night gasping for breath from the trauma. Duffy had a draft of Little Red-Cap in prose. She basically rewrote Little Red Riding Hood and renamed it Little Red-Cap. I do not know what the purpose of that might have been besides getting over initial writer’s block. Maybe perhaps she was just bored and decided to rewrite the story that led to her being inspired to write the poem. The only difference in the story was the ending. From what I remember I first heard the rendition of Little Red Riding Hood [spoiler alert] where the hunter comes and shoots the wolf and they unlock the trapped grandmother in the closet. Duffy’s version was a bit different. The hunter this time instead of shooting the wolf, takes aim and thinks that the wolf has swallowed the grandmother whole so decides to cut it open. This description of the ending specifically reminded me of “one chop, scrotum to throat.” I have a feeling that it was that specific instant that inspired her poem. I may be completely wrong since I do not know the chronology of these manuscripts. Furthermore there were other manuscripts where I only found one stanza – specifically the one with sexual implications. It seems that Duffy was intrigued by violence and sex [who isn’t?] and used Little Red Riding Hood as the backdrop for her explorations. To find out if this is true, call her.