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Compare and contrast "Recognition" and "Moments of Grace" by Carol Ann Duffy.

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Introduction

Elizabeth Morgan. Compare and contrast "Recognition" and "Moments of Grace" by Carol Ann Duffy. The poem "Recognition" is about the inevitable march of time, in which we learn that we are not what we once were. Food in the poem becomes the stimulus for the poem, as she looks at it in the ordinary everyday sense; it projects her back into the past. It reminds her of what she was, compared to what she now is. The first stanza voices regret in that time has passed and she didn't realise, and now it's too late. She realises that she stopped making the effort, and now there's not enough time left for her. She has achieved what was expected of her, three children, and now she spends the rest of her life providing for her children. She voices regret and abandonment at the fact that her children now have their own lives and don't need her so much anymore. In the second stanza, 'Years' voices another sense of regret at a lifetime of missed opportunities. She regrets things she's not done and for what she's missed out on in life. She says 'I strain to remember a time when my body felt lighter' and this is true for so many people. ...read more.

Middle

'It did happen' is the recognition of the past, that at one time she was happy. The last stanza is the ultimate recognition for her. She bumps into a mirror and stares at 'an anxious, dowdy matron' which is the person she has now become. She says 'I'm sorry sorry sorry' because she had thought she was someone else, and that the future would be better for her, but it's not. By the end of the poem, the woman has recognised what she has become and the distance she's travelled between what she was told and what she has and has not achieved. "Moments of Grace" is a reflective poem, where she is looking back at her life. The poem is rooted on a journey, in which the past makes her recognise that she's happy in the present. The poem is told through a series of sustained recollections and dreams of the past and what was. She describes a 'wordless' state, which can be linked to the fourth stanza, in which she claims that actions, such as kissing the back of the neck, are worth more than words like I love you. 'Grace' comes from God in Heaven, and so 'Moments of grace' are described as beautiful moments which bring her relaxation. ...read more.

Conclusion

'Passing, you kiss the back of my neck. A blessing.' Due to the spontaneity, this simple act means more to her than actual words and the unexpected is better. The 'blessing' suspends the religious metaphor. This becomes a moment of grace, a blessing from God, and a celebration of love. The poem is made universal because we all want to love and be loved, and for her, the kiss on the back of the neck is a moment of grace, a blessing from God. The poem is structured so that she realises the present. The noun that she becomes is a lover, and so her verb in the past is still her verb now - to love and be loved. "Recognition" and "Moments of Grace" show contrasting views of the past and the present. In "Recognition" the past is better than the present. She feels she has missed many opportunities in her lifetime and the world of opportunity which she once had has now gone, and she is left to accept her role as a middle-aged, abandoned mother and a provider of the family. In "Moments of Grace" the present is better than the past, in the fact that, although the past held more chances and the possibility for anything, and growing old stifles memories, her present state is one of content and happiness in knowing that the intimacy and love is still alive in her life. ...read more.

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