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'Write an analysis on the long queen.

Lucy Brumby
The collection of poems from which we are given 'The Long Queen' is named
'Feminine Gospels'. Roughly translated as the teachings of feminism, or a
collection of feminine beliefs, aiming to give the reader visions of female
identity. This title clearly gives the impression that the collection of poems
are going to have a common theme of womanhood, female opinion and
identity and the power of a woman.
'The Long Queen' is the first poem in the collection, and immediately
captures the attention of the reader with its opening line - 'The long queen
couldn't die.', this opening line is very statement like, and the use of the word
couldn't plants the question in the readers mind of whether the long queen
(whoever she is at this point) wants to die and cant, or whether she is
immortal. Which is essentially the difference between being a regular human,
or having an element of fantasy and being a myth. The first stanza then
progresses to make references to royal figures, and explains that the long
queen has had many offers of a male partner, however has declined them all.
Suggesting maybe a link to Queen Elizabeth I, who never married when she
ruled as queen. The stanza concludes with the idea that the long queen to
Time for a husband, the word 'Time' has a capital letter at the front, meaning
that it has almost been personified having been written like a name,
suggesting that the long queen 'married' time, that time was her partner. It
then finishes on 'Long live the Queen', reaffirming the idea in the readers
head that the Queen is powerful, and wil rule for a long time.
Stanza 2 begins with a rhetorical question, followed by a list of roles typically

occupied by females, showing to the reader that the long queen is essentially
queen of all things female, and womanhood as a whole.There is use of
alliteration in the list, with 4 words beggining with W, which places emphasis
on the roles that women play, and that the Long Queen is ruler of them all.
We then progress to stanza 3, which tells us that the long queen is Unseen,
suggesting that she is a force acting upon us, opposed to an actual person,
and that maybe Duffy is refering to the strength of womankind. The 'ruled'
and 'reigned', are both elongated words, emphasising to the reader the
extent at which she is in power, and also linking to the theme of time that is
clearly present in the poem. Within this stanza, Duffy also makes several
references to what appears to be fairytales, and fantasy. She mentions a
castle, tower and 'out and about in rags'. This can be interpreted as
references to different fairytale stories, again touching on the fantasy aspect
of the poem.
Stanza 4 introduces us to the long queens 'laws' supposedly of womanhood.
The four laws are named Childhood, Blood, Tears and Childbirth. These laws
represent the journey throughout a wommans life, and symbolize growth and
maturity which allows the reader (if female) to relate to Duffy/ The Long
Queen with whatever stage in their life they may be at. Each of the laws are
described in extremely graphic ways, using dynamic words to grip the reader,
and to allow images to be produced in the readers head. For example the
tears are described as salt pearls and bright jewels, suggesting that a
womans tears are rare and precious, and are almost sacred and special. The
childbirth is described using very vocal words such as screamed and bawled,
to intensiify the effect on the reader which is to allow them to sympathize.

Throughout all of this Duffy manages to present the Long Queen in an

extremely powerful way, another clear theme of the poem.
Finally in the last stanza Duffy paints the long queen to be somebody of high
power, as she is watching over things from a high window. This could
symbolize a hierarchy of power, as the long queen is at the top, meaning that
she watches over from an above position, as she is superior to everybody
else. This stanza lists actions of females such as gossip, confession and
scandal, and suggests that the long queen is 'tuned in' to the women of the
world, Duffy then reinforces this metaphor by refering to the actions of the
women as light music, drums and strings, clearly symbols of music. The
poem then finishes with a contrasting line 'The old. Long Queen.' this shows
word play, and creates a sense of finality which is juxtaposed with the final
image of the last line 'her posessions for a moment of time', which highlights
the short amount of time that we as humans have on earth, in comparison to
earth itself.