How Does Duffy Explore The Theme Of Love In First Love And Valentine? English Literature, Poetry Essay

1498 words - 6 pages

Holly Snow How does Duffy explore the theme of love in first love and valentine?
Both the poems first love (FL) and valentine (V) have narrators who have loved and are appreciating that love through reminiscing. As in FL its their very first love who, presumably, they aren’t with anymore being the main centre of attention. With the narrator’s current partner being referred to once in line 10 ‘my lovers eyes.’ In V the narrator is appreciating their current lover by gifting them an ‘onion’ to represent their love not being cliché.
In FL the narrator is nostalgic of their ‘first love’ and as the title of the poem this is effective. As it shows the innocence of what they will talk about and reflect that now the narrator wants it to be that simple again. As shown through them seeing their first love in their ‘lovers eyes.’ This emphasises that there may be trouble with their current relationship as they focus on their first love. Which is evidential when they describe waking up with ‘a dream of first love.’ The fact they woke up from a ‘dream’ shows they were fantasising about it and were hopeful. But waking snapped them back to reality ‘forming real words.’ Interestingly this is the opening in which is effective as it creates the mood to be nostalgic and shows a hint of disappointment. But also, Duffy shows how the first love is a dream and a child’s love. Highlighting when we grow old it becomes less fantasising and deeper issues happen such as adultery. As this narrator seems to be thinking ‘such faithfulness.’ this minor sentence uses the determiner ‘such’ which refers to the faithfulness, but it isn’t clear who they is referring to themselves or their first love. It could be referring to their first love not being faithful, giving it an ironic position. As they use enjambment of ‘unseen flowers’ which could suggest that the narrator expected flowers as an apology for something they did. But the adjective ‘unseen’ creates a negative image of disappointment that they weren’t real or given. This could be Duffy’s message that love isn’t so innocent as a ‘child’s love’ and people do get hurt by other people’s actions. Although a different interpretation could be the narrator feeling guilty for betraying their partners ‘faithfulness’ as they re imagine the ‘smile in [their] head on the last evening.’ Therefore, the love has a ‘smile’ the noun suggests they are happy and therefore aren’t guilty of adultery. But the ‘last night’ shows it ended and may have been the narrators guilt which lead to a ‘sudden pierce and sweet[ness] in the air.’ Which highlights a bitter sweet ending to their first love. As the last line of the poem it contrasts the positive image of the verb ‘sweeten’ with the verb ‘pierce.’ Interestingly creating the image of a bitter sweet ending to first loves, and possibly Duffy...

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