Captain Top of Form

How does Duffy present the theme of time in ‘The Captain of the 1964 Top of the Form Team’? In the poem, ‘The Captain of the 1964 Top of the Form Team’ by Carol Ann Duffy, many themes are frequently explored, time is a huge theme presented throughout, there are many relations and connections to time and how it changes people, affects our behaviour etc, this theme if explored by Duffy using a variety of techniques including structure, language, dramatic techniques and imagery used. Firstly time is explored in detail by the structure of the poem. The title of the poem gives us the insight that the poem is stuck in time, due to the date.

Shows it must be about past tense or reminiscing. This maybe makes the poem more meaningful and personal. The poem is written in the first person as it is the “Captain that is speaking to someone. The 4 stanzas in the poem all of various lengths show the structure of the poem is disjointed suggesting that this is his trail of thought and his mind all over the place, maybe trying to understand and relive the past. This is done using pauses and short sentences, the short sentences may also show that the narrator is becoming very excited and erratic, almost childlike that he remembers so much and is excited to tell his story.

There is no rhythm to the poem again showing that he hasn’t had time to collect his ideas together, almost in a rush trying to reveal all the information and just blabbing it all out without thinking, the use of no rhythm affects the poem as it makes it seem more playful, if a rhythm had been used it may seem more formal. Language is also important to show the theme of time. The poem is in an informal tone, showing a more chatty/conversation which seems more childlike and friendly. (“Oh pretty women were in the Top Ten that month”).

The use of the informal chat shows he feels bubbly and happy perhaps showing that this is a happier stage in his life, and he prefers talking about the past than the present. Duffy has used a lot of past tense verbs e. g. “pulled” , “smiled”, this also shows that the story is about the past and how he keeps reminiscing over and over about the things he did. The choice of persona distances the poem from Duffy and gives her the opportunity to view the issues from a more objective perspective. However the tone of the poem isn’t dull it is very jumpy, highlighting the narrator’s energy, optimism and pride in himself.

Duffy demonstrates this by using adjectives like ‘fizzing’, ‘whooped’ and ‘blew like Mick’, she also shows his confidence by using self-assured phases like ‘No snags’, ‘Come on’, ‘I smiled’. Dramatic techniques are also used frequently through Duffy’s poem to help exaggerate the theme of time. She uses music to set the scene in the first stanza,’ Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Baby Love, Oh Pretty Woman’ emphasizing on the widespread impact of pop music. There is a sense of a boy, cramming information, I can give you the B-side of the Supremes one. Hang on. Come See About Me? Overall the feeling is one of optimism. I think the use of the music and songs is to give the childhood and fun feeling, the use of the old pop music shows he is reminiscing on old times and not focusing on the present, the fact he is singing shows he isn’t afraid to express himself, seeming quite happy and chirpy, the poem would seem more controlled and restricted making us question whether he actually enjoyed his past. The use of these dramatic techniques make the narrator seems he has no care in the world also draws on his freedom. Imagery helps us even more see the theme of the time in the poem.

In the third stanza we are presented with the image of a proud mother “My mother kept my mascot Gonk on the TV set for a year. ” There is also an emphasis of British context through the use of road names up ‘Churchill Road’ and ‘up Nelson Drive’. In the second stanza the speaker describes going down a hill on his bike “I sped down Dyke Hill, no hands, famous, learning” the use of this gives the image of freedom and how children speed away on their bikes without any care in the world. This could also relate to time, like him speeding away on his bike, time seems to be going so fast, flashing before his eyes.

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