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Category Archives: National Poetry day

AUTUMN’S SONG (for National Poetry Day )

Autumn's song (for National Poetry Day)

Exclusive: poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s poems for children


These eight pieces, which explore schooldays and the mysteries of childhood, will be included in Carol Ann’s latest collection of children’s poems, to be published this coming autumn by Faber.

Carol Ann Duffy (pic: Getty)
Carol Ann Duffy (pic: Getty)

Carol Ann Duffy has been acclaimed as the first poet laureate for the whole family with her brilliant poems for children.

New laureate Carol Ann – who edits our Poetry Corner column – has given us an exclusive preview of her latest work to share with Daily Mirror readers.

These eight pieces, which explore schooldays and the mysteries of childhood, will be included in Carol Ann’s latest collection of children’s poems, to be published this coming autumn by Faber.


I got a shock

hearing the grown-ups talk

to find that my Grandmother’s name

wasn’t her name at all,

only her married name.

I listened hard

till I heard

that the same was true

of Grandmother Two,

who had nearly been left

on the shelf

long ago

when she was called something else.

The maiden names

were their real names.

I spoke them aloud-

Mary Wallace, Agatha Hart,

Mary Wallace, Agatha Hart

and saw them as maidens, lassies, girls

in their lost young worlds

with their own names.

Language inside me flared, burned,

then to my Mother I turned.


were for the mothers,

listening to flute scales stop and start;

and for the fathers,

whistling their tired ways home in the dark;

for younger brothers,

sent with the jingling cows to market;

or for eldest daughters,

hymned up the aisles till death did them part;

for orphans,

led by a piper out of a pretty park;

and for paupers,

scraping their fiddles for small change in a hat;

for old ones,

tapping their sticks on the twisting path;

for soldiers,

stamping their boots on a victory march;

and for the lovers,

the broken chords of their hearts.


Your school knows the names of places-

Dhaka, Rajshahi, Sylket, Khulna, Chittagong

and where they are.

Your school knows where rivers rise-

the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Thames-

and knows which seas they join.

Your school knows the height of mountains

disappearing into cloud.

Your school knows important dates,

the days when history turned around

to stare the human race

straight in the face.

Your school knows the poets’ names, long dead-

John Keats, Rabindranath Tagore, Sylvia Plath –

and what they said.

It knows the paintings hanging in the old gold frames

in huge museums

and how the artists lived and loved

who dipped their brushes in the vivid paint.

Your school knows the language of the world-

hello, namaskar, sat sri akal, as-salaam-o-aleykum, salut-

it knows the homes of faith,

the certainties of science,

the living art of sport.

Your school knows what Isaac Newton thought,

what William Shakespeare wrote

and what Mohammed taught.

Your school knows your name-

Shirin, Abdul, Aysha, Rayhan, Lauren, Jack-

and who you are.

Your school knows the most important thing to knowy

ou are a star,

a star.


Peggy, Peggy Guggenheim,

favourite drink Italian wine.

Peggy, Peggy Guggenheim,

favourite smell is turpentine.

Peggy, Peggy Guggenheim,

favourite jeans by Calvin Klein.

Peggy, Peggy Guggenheim,

favourite herb is lemon thyme.

Peggy, Peggy Guggenheim,

favourite fruit a Tuscan lime.

Peggy, Peggy Guggenheim,

favourite art Venetian mime.

Peggy, Peggy Guggenheim,

favourite tree a creeping vine.

Peggy, Peggy Guggenheim,

favourite statue free of grime.

Peggy, Peggy Guggenheim,

favourite poem has to rhyme

with Peggy, Peggy Guggenheim.


You like safe sounds:

the dogs lapping at their bowls;

the pop of a cork on a bottle of plonk

as your mother cooks;

the Match of the Day theme tune

and Doctor Who-oo-oo.

Safe sounds:

your name called, two happy syllables

from the bottom to the top of the house;

your daft ringtone; the low gargle

of hot water in bubbles. Half asleep

in the drifting boat of your bed,

you like to hear the big trees

sound like the sea instead.


Only a neat margin of moonlight

there at the curtain’s edge.

The room like a dark page.

I lie in bed.

Silence is ink.

The sound of my breath dips in

and out. So I begin

night writing. The stars type themselves

far out in space.

Who would guess,

to look at my sleeping face,

the rhymes and tall tales I invent?

Here be dragons; children lost

in the wood; three wishes; the wicked

and the good.

Read my lips.

The small hours are poems.

Dawn is a rubber.


Glad we don’t have to bark.

Glad we don’t have to cock

one leg and wee on a lampost.

Glad we don’t have to cluck

or lay an egg. Glad we don’t

have to moo, neigh, baa, eat grass

or hay, be milked, fleeced, ridden.

Glad we don’t have to hoot, hang

from the thread of a web, sting, slither.

Glad we don’t have to mew, eat mice,

peck, breathe through gills, dwell

in shells or form a chrysalis, hiss,

hum, hover. Glad we don’t

have to kip upside down in the dark, bark.


Here today

Gondolier tomorrow.

To Autumn

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain’d
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

“The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

“The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.”
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

William Blake (from Poetical Sketches, 1783)

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