It’s poetry, it’s wonderful. In this anthology Duffy deals with motherhood and life and loss. A mother herself, Duffy covers the sadness of the death of her own mother and ‘Premonitions’ holds the desire of everyone who has lost a loved one to unspool time backwards and experience those laughing moments in a shred history again.
The anthology also holds a love of Britain, its nature and geography, the poems The Counties, The White Horses and John Barleycorn drawing a nostalgic picture of a Britain deeply brewed in the honeyed history she creates with her word pictures. As an expatriate living in Spain, her words conjure the beauty of British landscape deeply imbued in our collective cultural memories. There are nods to Wilfred Owen in Last Post and Passing Bells, using the terrors of WW1 to look, perhaps, at the continuing wars that we are living through now with another’s eyes.
As the title suggest, Duffy is also concerned with bees, both as a symbol of what we may have to lose should our environmental destruction continue, but also as a symbol of the potential human ability to co-operate towards a better human good.
Finally, there are plenty of moments of laughter too, with Achilles a reference to David Beckham and plenty of poems in celebration of childhood and the delights of motherhood. Sometimes just celebrating nature and words themselves in a cacophony of assonance, alliteration and rhyme that Duffy is a true master of.
It’s a lovely anthology and one which I will return to with great frequency over the years to revisit the joys and the tears contained within.