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English Literature


For some background about Carol Ann Duffy, look at the context section of We Remember Your Childhood Well.

Subject matter


Listen to the poem and watch the slideshow


The most unusual thing I ever stole? A snowman.Midnight. He looked magnificent; a tall, white mutebeneath the winter moon. I wanted him, a matewith a mind as cold as the slice of icewithin my own brain. I started with the head.

Better off dead than giving in, not takingwhat you want. He weighed a ton; his torso,frozen stiff, hugged to my chest, a fierce chillpiercing my gut. Part of the thrill was knowingthat children would cry in the morning. Life's tough.

Sometimes I steal things I don't need. I joy-ride carsto nowhere, break into houses just to have a look.I'm a mucky ghost, leave a mess, maybe pinch a camera.I watch my gloved hand twisting the doorknob.A stranger's bedroom. Mirrors. I sigh like this - Aah.It took some time. Reassembled in the yard,he didn't look the same. I took a runand booted him. Again. Again. My breath ripped outin rags. It seems daft now. Then I was standingalone among lumps of snow, sick of the world.

Boredom. Mostly I'm so bored I could eat myself.One time, I stole a guitar and thought I mightlearn to play. I nicked a bust of Shakespeare once,flogged it, but the snowman was the strangest.You don't understand a word I'm saying, do you?

A snowman at night

Picture courtesy of Karthik Narayanaswami

The speaker in the poem states that the most unusual thing they ever stole was a snowman. They describe how they did so and how enjoyable it was to know that "children would cry" as a result of the theft.

They also tell us about other things they've stolen, often pointlessly: "Sometimes I steal things I don't need."

The speaker then tells us how they destroyed the snowman, by kicking it to bits, because they were "sick of the world" and "bored". Finally the writer admits this account of what they have done sounds strange and that people "don't understand".

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