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Commentary Poem Valentine

By jamesjohnd May 15, 2014 862 Words

Carol Ann Duffy’s poem “Valentine” is a love poem about an unlikely gift of an onion that would not generally be considered an image of love as a chocolates or a rose would be. A woman is receiving a gift from her husband on Valentine’s Day. She receives an onion as a gift and her significant other explains to her why they are giving her an onion. Carol Ann Duffy explain the reality of love through language and structure, shows the inconsistency and unsteadiness through language and structure. The reality of love is shown in this poem through structure and language. Carol Ann Duffy immediately starts the poem with the word “not” (Duffy 1) a negative word not generally associated with the feeling of love and kindness but she continues to use the negative feeling that the word no brings throughout the poem for instance “Not a cute card” (Duffy 12) and more subtly in “I am trying to be truthful” (Duffy 11) where we see she is trying not to be romantic but instead tell the truth. She also demonstrates the negative feelings that love brings with diction like “lethal” (Duffy 21), “possessive” (Duffy 15) and “tears” (Duffy 7). Duffy also uses diction to show the positive feeling that love can bring with diction like “light” (Duffy 4), “faithful” (Duffy 15) and “promises” (Duffy 4). Carol Ann Duffy uses free verse to incorporate purposeful short sentences like “I give you an onion” (Duffy 2), “Take it” (Duffy 21) and “Here” (Duffy 6) and longer sentences like “It is a moon wrapped in brown paper” (Duffy 3) and “Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring” (Duffy 19) to show that different relationships have different lengths. She uses words like “platinum” (Duffy 19) to show how durable love can be but also uses instability to show how love can easily fall apart and how love is “a wobbling photo of grief” (Duffy 10). Duffy shows how passionate love can be with diction like “fierce” (Duffy 14) and “cling” (Duffy 22). Carol Ann Duffy shows us the high points and low points of love in her poem by showing how love can “blind you with tears” (Duffy 7) or how it “promises light” (Duffy 4). The onion in this poem represents love and the battles that come with love. Carol Ann Duffy starts the poem with “not a red rose or a satin heart” (Duffy 1) saying what the man isn't giving his wife as a gift rather than what he is giving her. Saying what he isn't giving shows that love can be expressed in many ways but not all are suited for one particular person. She goes on to saying “I give you an onion” (Duffy 2) a blunt sentence that only has one way to understand what is happening. The one sidedness of this demonstrates that to have a relationship you need to be straightforward and blunt with your significant other. “It is a moon wrapped in brown paper” (Duffy 3) show that love is a beautiful thing trapped away and covered from everyone but itself and those who are daring enough to explore it. The harshness that comes with love is reflected in the lines “It will blind you with tears like a lover” (Duffy 7-8) showing that love can sometimes blind you from the good or just the opposite and blind you from the bad. This is proceeded with “I am trying to be truthful” (Duffy 11) and “Not a cute card or a kissogram” (Duffy 12) which are two one line stanzas that both have negative aspects to them. Two negative short stanzas could represent the two relationships one after the other that were horrible and ended quickly. The next stanza starts with “I give you an onion” (Duffy 13) once again like the relationship is repeating itself. “Its fierce kiss” (Duffy 14) and “possessive and faithful” (Duffy 15) represent a wistful dreamy relationship full of true passion and love. The switch from use of “I” (Duffy 11) and “your” (Duffy 9) to “we”(Duffy 16) represents the change in mindset as the lovers fall in a deep love for each other. The mention of a “wedding-ring” (Duffy 19) could signify the final step in their relationship before they are truly legally bonded. “Lethal” (Duffy 21) represents that the love is going to end and die like everything does. The poem switches back from “we” (Duffy 16) to “you” (Duffy 20) as the love begins to fade. “Its scent will cling to your fingers” (Duffy 22) shows that the love that the lovers had will stay with you even after you end it and will follow you wherever you go. “Cling to your knife” (Duffy 23) shows the brutal death of the love as the girl who received the onion as a gift ends the love. It shows that even after she has ended things with him he will always stay on her list of breakups. The onion represents the full cycle of love that comes with any relationship. It represents the hate and adoration as well as the fights and forgiveness. The different aspects of love are shown throughout the poem with the language and structure used in this poem. In this poem love is a wonderful thing that has its downsides but as nice as it is it ultimately always ends.

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