Poems are commonly used to convey strong feelings about the true nature of love. However, these feelings can take many different shapes which articulate positive as well as negative perceptions of love. The four poems that embody these different features are ‘Hour’ by Carol Ann Duffy, ‘Sonnet 116’ by William Shakespeare, ‘In Paris with you’ by James Fenton and ‘Quickdraw’ by Carol Ann Duffy. Two poems that share similar feelings about love are ‘in Paris with you’ and ‘Quickdraw’ as they both explore the theme of conflict and emotional pain instigated by love.
Fenton makes it clear in the first stanza that the speaker has been hurt in the past, claiming that he was ‘one of your talking wounded’ which is a pun on the phrase ‘walking wounded’. However, this phrase is pursued by a. Use of neologism ‘maroonded’ which serves to create an apparent carefree tone carried on through-out the poem. However, as the poem progresses it becomes apparent that the light-hearted mood hides a deeper subtext and is a cover for the speaker’s true feelings.
Similarly Duffy makes use of an extended metaphor ‘a western stand-off’, using the slightly chilidish image to to conceal her true feelings and the more serious emotional pain which results from love. She makes use of lexical choices from the semantic field of battle or a western style stand-off “guns, trigger, Sheriff, last chance saloon” to reflect how she is feeling in the relationship as well as avoiding the reality of the issue. Despite the light-hearted tones of the poems, the reader’s attention is drawn to the subtle darker subtexts which reveal the speakers’ true feelings in both poems.
Fenton indirectly adresses the speakers true feelings about love by using an ambiguous phrase ‘in paris with you’ repetitively. However, towards the end of the poem it soon becomes clear that “paris” is a euphemism for love. Love is really what the speajer is trying to convey but in a cautious way clearly due to a phobia of rejection or further emotional pain experienced in previous loving relationships. Duffy makes the speakers feelings know in a slightly indirect way as well by the use of enjambment in the phrase ‘you blast me… hrough the heart’, the sudden break in the line highlights the effect te lovers words have on the speaker by enabling through ‘through the heart’ to stand alone consequently stand out. With ‘heart’, being the main of love and ‘blast’, related to warfare, being married together, they significantly emphasize the true pain the speaker is experiencing from the lovers’ use of weaponry ‘your voice a pellet’ as well as a real depth of her vulnerability. In addition, the two poems make use of structure to convey their strong feelings about love to the reader by manipulating the form and layout of the poems.
Duffy uses sonnet structure in ‘quickdraw’, which is a structure traditionally used for romantic poetry. A sonnet consists of 4 stanzas, each stanza containing four lines, also known as a quatrain which are reminiscent of Shakespeare. However, the sonnet structure in ‘Quickdraw’ doesn’t quite reflect the common structure of a sonnet as it is brocken up by the use of enjambment and caesuras ‘blast me (stanza 2)… throught the heart (stanza 3)’ and ‘another one’s(stanza 3)… oncealed(stanza 4)’ which can be enterpreted in different ways, perhaps it is used to symbolize the breakdown of communication in the relationship or maybe it was used to highlight important words. ‘Quickdraw’ is also wiritten in free verse, so there is no order to the poem as a result it is effective as it replicates the subject of a western ‘stand-off’ or ‘showdown’ which similarly have no order to them and are generally chaotic. Correspondingly, ‘in paris with you’ is also manipulated so that the structure and form of the poem emphasizes certain elements of the relationship.
The third stanza is indented and contains nine lines as opposed to the other stanza’s which contain five lines. The evident change in structure in stanza 3 is imposed to highlight the speaker’s rejection of all the cliches of love by using colloquial language ‘can we say sod off to the sodding Notre Dame’, which juxtaposes the classic image if Paris:the city of love. Therefore, an idea of the speaker’s clear fear of having to commit theirself to a relationship, after being ‘bamboozled’ by the ‘mess’ of the previous ones, is suggested.
Nonetheless, despite the speakers in both poems’ reluctance to admit the emotional pain and conflict they are suffering, the true extent of their feelings towards their lovers is made very clear by their poignant last lines. “In paris with you” ends with the speaker directly adressing their subject of their affection by saying ‘I’m in Paris with you’, thereby making it clear to the reader that they are in fact ‘In love with you’ if you replace ‘paris’ with ‘love’.
The phrase is repeated several times through-out the poem and suggest that no matter how much the speaker denies their feelings, they are unable to hide them. The extra line in stanza 5 suggests the speaker is breaking free of their old thoughts about love and opening up to new ones. Similarly the speaker in “quickdraw” ends the poem with the ambiguous phrase “take this… and this… and this”.
The breakdown of language and the use of ellipsis and repetition could be interpreted in different ways, it could suggest that the speaker has been left defensless against the blows of her lover. Alternatively it could be that she finally succumbed to her feelings and is showering her partner with kisses as the bullets are described as ‘silver’, so precious and expensive. The last lines of Quickdraw are effective as they are very much open to interpretation so the reader is left with different ideas about how the speaker is feelings.
Conclusively, the strong feelings about love presented in “In Paris with you” and “Quickdraw” are highly interesting and evocative with Duffy’s use of extended metaphors and Fenton’s use of repetition and euphemism. Both of the speaker’s ability to get the reader to empathise with them indicates the clear effectiveness of the poem’s language, structure and context. The layered deeper meanings and subtexts, hidden beneath the light-hearted tones of the poems, are especially effective.
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