Carol Ann Duffy, the poet laureate, has launched a scathing attack on MPs “milking” expenses, the conflict in Afghanistan and the state of modern Britain in a grim version of the Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas.
n the poem, Duffy also criticised the war, bankers’ bonuses, celebrity culture and the slow response to the threat of global warming.
But it is the war, which has claimed the lives of 236 British soldiers – almost half of them this year – that she chose to dwell on.
The first verse pictures a soldier, spied upon by a “buzzard on a branch” rather than a homely partridge in a pear tree, who is looking at a photograph of his children. It implies he will soon be dead.
Duffy returns to the subject with dreadful repetition in the ninth verse – as if to underline the way the news has been constantly punctured with reports of those killed.
She focuses on the women whose lives have been torn apart by the death of a husband or boyfriend.
“But the dead soldier’s lady does not dance,” begins the ninth verse, which traditionally celebrates “Nine ladies dancing”.
She goes on to list other women in today’s Britain who do not dance, including “the honour killing lady”, “the lady in the filthy hospital ward” and “the lady with the pit bull terrier”.