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Carol Ann Duffy

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Introduction

Carol Ann Duffy Valentine and Mrs. Tilscher's Class both describe feelings of love and security, but in different ways. Valentine is a strong poem, about love (although it is an unusual poem - it is more harsh, and not sweet like most valentine's poems). The structure is uneven, and it has stanzas that vary in length. The first line immediately shows that the poem is unusual. It starts with, "Not a red rose or a satin heart." This is a sign that the poem is not a typical love poem. The next line is, "I give you an onion." The onion symbolizes many different things about love. It is strong and harsh and, throughout the poem, Carol Ann Duffy compares it to love. She does this by comparing the peeling skin to 'the careful undressing of love', and saying 'it will blind you with tears, like a lover.' Here, she compares the way an onion makes your eyes water to the tears and hurt often caused by love. ...read more.

Middle

It starts by describing Mrs Tilscher's class, and the sounds and smells of the classroom. When she describes the bell ringing, she says 'the laugh of a bell'. This is happy and cheerful. Then she goes on to say, "The classroom glowed like a sweet shop." This is a good comparison because it is comparing the classroom to a warm, colourful sweet shop, which makes it seem exciting. She mentions Brady and Hindley, 'the moors murderers', and how easily the uncomfortable worry of them disappears in Mrs Tilscher's class. Carol Ann Duffy also mentions the smells, sights and sounds a lot. In the last two lines of the second verse, she mentions 'the scent of a pencil slowly, carefully shaved' and 'xylophone's nonsense heard from another form' (probably chaotically by a young child). After the warmth, safety and security of the first two verses, the poem changes dramatically. It becomes less comforting, and is more about growing up. The first sign of this is in the very first two lines - 'the inky tadpoles changed from commas into exclamation marks.' ...read more.

Conclusion

Mrs Tilscher's class uses more similes: "The classroom glowed like a sweet shop." "Brady and Hindley faded, like the faint, uneasy smudge of a mistake." These similes are strong and paint a good picture of the classroom and how Duffy feels about it. Again, she links it to the classroom by saying, 'the faint, uneasy smudge of a mistake.' She uses scent a lot in both poems. In Valentine, she uses the strong scent of an onion to describe how it compares to love. In Mrs Tilscher's class, she uses it to describe the warmth and safety of the classroom. She uses another sense in Mrs Tilscher's class - taste, when she says, 'the air tasted of electricity." I found both poems very powerful, and they describe feelings and emotions very well. Valentine could be very personal, or possibly written for anyone, whereas Mrs Tilscher's class is definitely describing Carol Ann Duffy's own experiences. Because of this, it is easier to relate to the feelings in that poem, although both are easy to understand and enjoy. I think that Valentine was more angry and honest, and Mrs Tilscher's class was more cosy and comfortable. ...read more.

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