Stanza two

This stanza opens with perhaps the most memorable words in the poem in her assertion that All childhood is an emigration. This metaphor reveals one of the key ideas explored by Duffy in this work as she considers the wider, more generic experience of childhood itself which, by definition, is equated with changes and transitions that are often beyond our control.

In the remainder of the stanza, the elongated, drawn out phrasing of the first three lines emphasises the slow stages of childhood and provides a contrast with the short, abrupt sentences that follow in the lines Others are sudden./ Your accent wrong.

Having the 'wrong' accent conveys how communication and acceptance is much more complex than merely speaking the same language. Her sense of confusion and not belonging is again reinforced as she recalls Corners, which seem familiar leading to unimagined, pebble-dashed estates.

The word choice of seem and unimagined exposes her inability to negotiate her way successfully through this new, strange and unfamiliar landscape. Similarly, her recollection of big boys/eating worms and shouting words you don’t understand underpins her sense of confusion as she is confronted by behaviour and language that is alien to her.

In the last two lines of this stanza, the initial optimism of her mother in the first stanza has been replaced with an anxiety that stirred like a loose tooth.

This is an interesting simile since, while it emphasises that her parents too are struggling with aspects of the move, their fears are not enough to provoke a strong reaction– a loose tooth can easily fall out of its own accord or be quickly extracted. The italicisation of the final line of this stanza I want our own country reminds us again of the autobiographical nature of the poem and is a reference back to the first line of stanza one.

It acts almost as a childish lament, perhaps one that was constantly repeated during this upsetting transition and reminds us, like the words big boys used earlier, how young Duffy was when this event occurred.