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Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy is a poem which creates a contradiction by contrasting the romantic poem style of the title,

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Introduction

'Valentine' by Carol Ann Duffy is a poem which creates a contradiction by contrasting the romantic poem style of the title, 'Valentine,' with a negative in the opening line, cancelling out any traditional thoughts of valentines, 'Not a red rose or a satin heart.' In this first line Duffy is stating a matter of fact; she also seems to be hinting at a different more tongue in cheek approach to Valentine's Day. Also in this first line she is telling her own valentine not to expect any tradition gifts which are sentimental, romantic or cheesy. She then goes on to offer something out of the ordinary, something very surprising... an onion. She then follows this up with the reasons as to why this vegetable makes the perfect valentines gift, 'It is a moon wrapped in brown paper. It promises light like the careful undressing of love.' She possibly chose the moon as her imagery as it's a traditional symbol of love-sickness and strongly influences the moods and emotions of people. Unlike most people Carol Ann Duffys approach to valentines seems to be far from typically love struck and seems to be much more pessimistic. ...read more.

Middle

It will make your reflection a wobbling photo of grief.' Here she refers to the stinging, burning properties of onions, using a technique which causes readers to almost see the words on the page through tear-filled eyes by use of language such as 'blind,' 'tears,' 'reflection' and 'wobbling.' These words all evoke memories of trying to view images through water. She likens stinging hurts caused by insensitive loves to the blurred vision and sore eyes caused by crying and emotional pain. The personified words 'Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips' refer to the idea that even if you leave your lover and go with someone else, the thought of your old partner will always linger around your mind. She then goes on to mention the concept of 'marriage'. She suggests that the bright white core of the onion is like a wedding ring: 'Its platinum loops shrinks to a wedding ring'. Nevertheless, marriage is just an option; we know this as she follows the statement with the line 'if you like'. If the love doesn't end with marriage, after having had all the 'fun' (physical relationship) ...read more.

Conclusion

The 'n' sound is found twice in 'onion' and its use in the last stanza is a constant reminder of the onion as a new valentine symbol/metaphor. "Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips," the 's' sound imitates the sound of a kiss and is an example of onomatopoeia. I personally think that in this poem Duffys plain speaking talks to the reader about the true realities of love, she is showing that relationships are both fun and painful, I think this due to the object which she is using, as an onion raw is sharp and has an acidic taste however once cooked the onion becomes sweet and soft - she is describing the two feeling of love and explaining what an honest relationship is. I also think that the way in which Duffy ends her anti-romantic poem she is reminding the reader of the violent/dangerous associations of onions and lovers rows - of sharp knives, sliced fingers, the scent and perseverance of a 'fierce kiss' of taste, all of which she compares to some of the less attractive qualities of love such as possession or lack of faithfulness. She is ending the poem on negative points leaving a pessimistic view of Valentine's Day in the readers mind. ...read more.

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