The poem, Valentine, is a monologue by Carol Ann Duffy addressed to her lover.

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Valentine analysis:

The poem, ‘Valentine’, is a monologue by Carol Ann Duffy addressed to her lover. It is part of the set ‘Mean Time’ published in 1993. It explores an unorthodox and frank side of love and compares it to the frivolities of Valentines day.

The poem is written in free verse and has no rhyme scheme. This emulates a conversation and also represents the disorder and unpredictability of love. It is loosely structured into six stanzas, each focusing on a different aspect of love. Similar to the peeling of an onion, the first few stanzas focus on the more pleasant parts of love and become progressively abhorrent. Duffy makes certain lines emphatic by isolating them from stanzas.  The sentence ‘I am trying to be truthful’ is an instance of this. Isolated from the second and third stanzas, this line is emphasized since it is one of the main purposes of the poem – to give her lover a veracious description of their love. She also uses enjambment to continue some ideas and create suspense. For instance, the sentence in stanza two begins ‘It will blind you with tears’ and continues to the next line in the same sentence ‘like a lover’. The use of enjambment builds up a sense of expectation and uncertainty in the reader before delivering the surprising confession that love has a painful side.

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The language of the poem is quite straightforward and unequivocal but also expresses profound meaning.

The title ‘Valentine’ has connotations of love and joy. It is associated with the customary traditions of mawkish gifts given to one’s significant other. The  focus of the poem is belittling these gestures and instead revealing the truth about love. It shows Duffy’s defiance of the mundane representation of love.

Duffy uses anaphora in her repetition of ‘Not a’ in the lines ‘Not a red rose or a satin heart’ and ‘Not a cute card or a kissogram’. This emphasizes Duffy’s dislike ...

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