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Carol Ann Duffy, (born 1958) tackles the issue of love in her poem "Valentine," as does Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822) in the poem "Love's Philosophy," and finally Robert Burns (1759-1796) considers the topic in "A Red Red Rose."

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"The course of true love never did run smoothly," (William Shakespeare.) How far do you think the three poems you have read conform to this view? Throughout history love has been a favoured theme with many poets in their writing. Carol Ann Duffy, (born 1958) tackles the issue of love in her poem "Valentine," as does Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822) in the poem "Love's Philosophy," and finally Robert Burns (1759-1796) considers the topic in "A Red Red Rose." As different poets throughout history have written about the topic it is not surprising that all three contain different and contrasting messages and viewpoints. It is clear that with the passage of time, views have become more pessimistic or some may say realistic. However, poems written in the eighteenth century still have relevance today. "A Red Red Rose" by Robert Burns portrays a very positive image of love. Firstly, Burns compares love to " a red, red rose." This is a traditional object linked with the theme of love and through this comparison it is clear Burns is praising love. Burns describes the rose as "red, red." This a bright, vibrant, sensual colour commonly associated when extolling love and appealing to the visual senses. Burns also compares love to " the melodie, that's sweetly played in tune." This vivid description appeals to the reader's auditory senses. The fact that Burns implies love appeals to several different senses demonstrates that he feels love is a powerful influence that can be experienced by all. ...read more.


In a way Shelley is presenting the poem as if he is justifying questions and criticisms of love. Once again similarly to " a red red rose" love is portrayed as a dependable emotion. While Shelley continually refers to love as a great power, he also hints that love can also be unpredictable and may fade with time. At the end of the first stanza Shelley includes a question, "in one spirit meet and mingle. Why not I with mine?" This is Shelley openly voicing his insecurities about love and admitting that he does not feel the power of love at the time of writing the poem. It is therefore evident that Shelley has seen the power of love manifest in a negative manner but he has not experienced love's forceful strength and thus leaves the reader with a slight sense of the unpredictability and frailty of love. Shelley's love poem is entitled, "Love's Philosophy," and similarly to a Burn's poem the title is used to reinforce the poem's message. The word "philosophy" is a set of beliefs that a person lives by and this poem is Shelley's attempt to create a set of rules that love follows. Shelley gives this impression so that more people will understand what a mighty force love is and in future will not reject love in turn for human advice. Like "A Red Red Rose," "Love's philosophy has a regular structure with the same number of lines in each stanza. ...read more.


Duffy has placed several words and lines on their own, "lethal," and "not a cute card or a kissogram." The aim of this is to draw attention to these important words and phrases, which allow the reader to be aware of the main message of the poem. In my opinion I feel that the two poems that are most closely related are "A Red Red Rose," by Burns and "Love's Philosophy", by Shelley. This is because both poems highlight the optimistic aspects of love to some extent. Both poems also compare love to natural elements that create the feeling that love is an amalgamating force. However "Love's Philosophy" and "Valentine" also share some similar traits. Both poems mention the negative characteristics of love but Valentine does address these issues more forcefully and in greater depth. Carol Ann Duffy wrote her poem nearly 200 years after Burns and Shelley. This means that a negative opinion of love would have been more accepted in society. Duffy may also have experienced a particularly painful relationship that may have ended on bad terms. My personal favourite out of the poems is Valentine as I feel it does show a very true side of love but achieves this in an original and exciting way. In connection with Shakespeare's statement, it is clear that Duffy most definitely agrees with it while Burn is in no doubt that the course of true love does run smoothly. Shelley, however, does not agree or disagree with the statement and I would personally agree that in some case love does run smoothly while in other relationships it does not. Hannah Boyd-Carson 5K ...read more.

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