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Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy

An analysis of the poem
by

Lisa McKenzie

on 1 November 2012

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Transcript of Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy

By Carol Ann Duffy Valentine to develop an understanding of the poem
to begin analysing the imagery of the poem
to annotate the poem selecting relevant images etc. Aims Not a red rose or a satin heart

I give you an onion. A negative opening to a poem we assume to be about a positive experience - goes against expectations. Make a note of all of the things you associate with the word "Valentine" Task One Typical romantic images Complete surprise! In complete contrast to earlier images. It is a moon wrapped in brown paper Typical romantic image Literally the white flesh of the onion in the brown skin but also a metaphor for romance It promises light

like the careful undressing of love Suggests hope - positive imagery Literally undressing for sex Suggests tenderness and care Less vulgar sounding than "sex" - gentle connotations Here. Single line. Forceful. We get the impression the gift has not been received well. It will make your reflection

a wobbling photo of grief Possibly two meanings - literally looking in the mirror or "looking back". Literally looking at photos and "reflecting" on the relationship? Or such a powerful memory it is etched in their minds like a photo? Not a word we expect in a "romance" poem. Possibly being truthful - love causes tears and pain sometimes.

Honest portrayal of love. I am trying to be truthful Unusual - are people normally honest on Valentine's Day? Not a cute card or a kissogram. Again, rejecting the stereotypical nature of love

line alone reinforces this, as does alliteration - this is a stronger rejection. Repetition of this line reinforces the gift.
Suggests the narrator is having to justify it. Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,

possessive and faithful

as we are,

for as long as we are. Oxymoron contrast aggression, violence tenderness Literally the taste of the onion lingers
Also, kiss is so powerful it can be felt after Could also suggest passion "Brown paper"
suggests giving
the moon as a gift Negative - suggests taken over by something "possessed"
Also, clingy and overpowering. Much more positive - suggests loyalty and trust Another contrast :
clingy obsessiveness and trusting loyalty - suggests relationships have positive and negative aspects Honesty Admitting that they both can be possessive and faithful in turn. Admitting the relationship won't last forever - honest again. Take it. Even more forceful. Insisting the gift is accepted. Begging? Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring

If you like. Proposal? Literally the onion rings getting smaller sense of restriction - entrapment by marriage? Not typical proposal - suggests narrator isn't that fussy. Lethal. Total shock!
Suggests love can kill Its scent will cling to your fingers,

cling to your knife. Literally the smell of the onion lingers Also, the memory of the pain of lost love stays with you Reminds us of "possessive" - clingy and desperate Repeating the word, and starting the line with it emphasises it. Stark contrast to images of the start of the poem - violent and painful. This is a poem about the reality of love.
Duffy does not try to pretend this relationship is something its not. By rejecting the stereotypical gifts associated with Valentine's Day, she offers an honest portrayal of this relationship, acknowledging the good and the bad. Knife suggests deep wounds that take time to heal and leave scars - love can hurt and this is hard to forget. It "clings" to you. Perhaps suggests being stabbed in the back? Betrayed? She freely admits something most people won't - love hurts We are going to annotate the poem. As the presentation moves through the poem, you should make notes on your own copy, using highlighters where appropriate Use your common sense - you won't fit everything I've written here onto your sheet - take notes you will understand! Roses are red
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
And so are you! It will blind you with tears

like a lover, Love is blind - can't see the bad things happening? Chopping onions brings tears to your eyes BUT... Recognition that those we love can hurt us - quite realistic A total shock!
Is the love so powerful it can kill? Or is it suggestive of something more sinister? The whole poem is a metaphor - the onion is used to represent love.

When a metaphor is carried on like this we call it an extended metaphor.
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