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Comparing ‘Quickdraw’ with ‘in Paris with You’

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How do the Poets James Fenton and Carol Ann Duffy Present the Pain of Love in their Poems ‘In Paris with You’ and ‘Quickdraw’? James Fenton and Carol Ann Duffy are both contemporary poets. Their poems ‘In Paris with You’ and ‘Quickdraw’ both include the themes of the pain of love. This essay compares how the two poets present the pain of love in their poems, exploring things such as imagery, vocabulary and form and structure. One way in which the poets present their ideas about the pain of love is through their use of imagery with their poems. For example, they both use metaphors about being ‘wounded’. Fenton’s line ‘I’m one of your talking wounded’ adopts a pun which relates to the expression ‘walking wounded’, used by soldiers to imply resilience. He feels as though love has previously ‘wounded’ him, if not actually finished him off. Similarly, continuing with the theme of violence, Duffy uses an extended metaphor throughout the whole poem which presents the break-up of her relationship as a gunfight in a Western movie. Lexis such as ‘trigger’, ‘silver bullets’, ‘wide of the mark’ and ‘blast me’ presents the effect of breaking up as wounding her physically.

The two poets have used differing structures in their poems in places to show the pain of love. In ‘Quickdraw’, in stanzas two and three, Duffy has used very short first lines. At first, the reader may think that these lines are out of place; however, if you put the two lines together, it reads ‘You’ve wounded me through the heart’. This line in particular is very powerful and shows that Duffy has been hurt painfully by the cruel end of her relationship. Contrastingly, Fenton uses a different style to convey his views in ‘In Paris with You’. Stanza three in the poem is contrasting to the other stanzas; it has more lines than any of the others, and no rhyme scheme like the others, who all share the same scheme ABCCB. This may represent the confusion that Fenton is feeling over how he feels about love; the poem states that he has recently broken up with a partner, and has been ‘wounded’ by it. However, he has found a new partner, and is beginning to feel that love is a good thing again. Although Fenton’s and Duffy’s structures differ in places, they are also similar in some ways too. For instance, both poems include repetitions.

In ‘Quickdraw’, Duffy writes ‘Take this…and this…and this…and this…and this…’. This is meant to represent her partner shooting her again and again; in reality, he is saying many mean things to her, and hurting her further each time he says something. Similarly, Fenton repeats the phrase ‘I’m in Paris with you’, which suggests that no matter what the couple have been through in the past, the fact that they are together is the only thing that matters. Also, the word ‘Paris’ may have a double meaning of love in the phrase. This is backed up in the last stanza in the last stanza of the poem, when Fenton writes ‘I’m in Paris with the slightest thing you do’, which would mean ‘I’m in love with the slightest thing you do’. Fenton may have used the word ‘Paris’ instead of ‘love’ because he is to afraid to speak of his love for her because of the possible consequences that he may eventually face, or he may have just used it because Paris is a city associated with love and romance. The language styles of the two poets differ in their poems. For example, Fenton writes ‘In Paris with You’ in the first person. He also uses many imperatives, such as ‘Don’t talk to me of love’.

This suggests that Fenton has almost become afraid of the word ‘love’, as he has had a bad experience, or even experiences to do with love in the past. Either he has recently broken up with someone, and his pain is still raw, or he has had such a bad experience that he is frightened to love again, even after a while. In ‘Quickdraw’, Duffy uses an interesting mix of the first and second person to show the pain of love. She also uses simple verb phrases, such as ‘You ring’, ‘you speak’ and ‘You choose’ to emphasise the pain of love. Perhaps they are meant to represent the sharp pain of being hit with a bullet. In conclusion, James Fenton and Carol Ann Duffy both use interesting techniques to show the pain of love in ‘In Paris with You’ and ‘Quickdraw’. Through the use of similar and differing language styles, imagery, and structure, both poets have created different views on the pain of love. Carol and Duffy’s poem has been written in a more solemn mood, and focuses solely on the pain of love and what distress it can bring you. However, James Fenton has written his poem in a more light-hearted style, and focuses more on the fact that although love can be painful at times, it can also be a wonderful thing.

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