Page last updated at 00:00 GMT, Sunday, 6 December 2009

Poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy writes Christmas poem

Carol Ann Duffy
Carol Ann Duffy was appointed poet laureate in May

Poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy has written a Christmas poem, specially commissioned by the Radio Times for its festive edition.

In 12 Days of Christmas, Duffy tackles a wide range of subjects from troops in Afghanistan to MPs' expenses, climate change and endangered birds.

US President Barack Obama, actress Joanna Lumley and artist Anish Kapoor also get a mention.

The poem can be read when the magazine goes on sale nationwide on 8 December.

The poem begins: "On the first day of Christmas, a buzzard on a branch. In Afghanistan, no partridge, pear tree; but my true love sent to me a card from home.

"I sat alone, crouched in yellow dust, and traced the grins of my kids with my thumb. Somewhere down the line, for another father, husband, brother, son, a bullet with his name on."

'Poignant poem'

The other 11 verses see the poet give her interpretation of the traditional Christmas song while commentating on the state of society and politics.

Five gold rings feature "bankers' profits fired in greed" while eight maids-a-milking sees one who "milked money to mend her moat".

Radio Times editor Ben Preston said: "It's a wonderfully trenchant, funny, poignant poem.

"It shows we've got a confident poet laureate with a powerful voice who's prepared to grapple with the biggest issues of the year in a way that will engage readers and win friends for poetry."

He added: "Christmas is one of those times where people reflect not just about their faith, but of the big issues of the time and poetry is a great way of getting people to chew over something which is what Carol Ann Duffy's done."

Duffy took over from Sir Andrew Motion as poet laureate in May, and is the first female in the post's 341-year history.

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