Carol Ann Duffy Shooting Stars

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Carol Ann Duffy’s poem ‘Shooting Stars’ is a poem in which human suffering is effectively portrayed. Duffy uses the situation of Nazi persecution of the Jewish people to underline this. Duffy’s use of an ambiguous title, together with her imagery effectively explores this theme of human suffering.

The poem’s title ‘Shooting Stars’ creates a sense of ambiguity. The general connotations applied to this phrase are that of a falling star or perhaps the beauty and brightness of fireworks. However it is not until we reach the actual content of the poem that we realise that the stars in question are those Stars of David, sewn on to the garments of Jews on the order of the Nazi regime. Duffy establishes the darkness and horror of the Holocaust immediately in the first line of the poem in the phrase ‘After I no longer speak’. Here Duffy creates an incredibly strong image of silence and death when the voice has been stilled permanently. The horror is continued in the image created by ‘they break our fingers’ and there is in this the onomatopoeia of the sound of snapping bones as ‘wedding rings’ are ‘salvaged’ for profit. Here again the poet uses the two conflicting images of the wedding band, a symbol of eternal love and theft and profit through death in juxtaposition. The first two lines create a vivid picture of man’s inhumanity to man, the unthinking, uncaring cruelty with which one race imposes on another.

As the first stanza develops Duffy uses traditional Jewish names, all unpunctuated to remove the idea of them being individuals, but a huge collective dead. Yet despite this she reveals the courage with which these woman faced death ‘upright as statues’, individuals who looked straight ahead waiting for death with calmness. The poet intensifies her images in her demand of the reader and to the wider world to ‘Remember’. This demand is repeated least the world forget for the narrator of the poem states that the ‘world’ is now ‘for ever bad’....
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