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Interesting or Enjoyable about the Ways Duffy Writes About the Past in her Poems

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In many of the poems Duffy writes about the past, and often the tone is of regret. In the poem ‘Brothers’ it begins reminiscing about the good times with the personas brothers. I believe the persona is Duffy herself. In italics it says ‘Theres no way in the creation…’. This quote may not make much sense to us, but it seems to be a personal joke she had once shared with her brothers. She then goes on to describe her brothers when they were younger describing them ‘as ‘an alter boy,a boy practising scales…’. The tone of this list is very conversational as there are many pauses due to the commas; this enables the reader to see the persona is remecising and almost talking to themselves about their brothers.It also sets the context of the poem as it is not describing the modern vday. As she is describing her brothers in this way I imagine them to be younger than her as she seems to be proud of them and reflecting.

A positive tne is briefly created when Duffy says ‘ I enjoy recieting their names’, althought this seems to suggest that is all she has left of her brothers. Duffy says ‘my mother chose them’. This gives the impression that perhaps her mother preferred her brothers to her and she was slightly neglected. Duffy says ‘How tall they have grown’. As she doesn’t use standard English and a lot of the sentences take this structure it creates a more conversational tone, almost as if she is talking and reminiscing to herself. This statement also seems as if she is saying it with pride for her brothers. Duffy states ‘We have nothing to say of now’, this adds to the sense of loss as it suggests the persona and her brothers have grown apart and have no common interests. The ending of this poem is rather ambiguous as it states ‘I shall pay for a box and watch them shoulder it’. This could either mean pay for her mother’s coffin or pay for her own; either thought is rather morbid so leaves the reader with the impression that the personas childhood was not so happy. This dramatic monologue gives the reader insight to the poem as it is personal to the persona. This poem has 4 stanzas, all of which are four lines long. This corresponds with the number of brothers, ‘these four men’, that Duffy talks about in the poem.

The poem ‘Nostalgia’ immediately gives the reader an idea of the theme of the poem, which is a longing for the past and homesickness. The persona claims ‘it made them ill’ which immediately tells the reader about the physical effects of nostalgia. The repetition of ‘Wrong’ in this poem emphasises the fact that this place is not home or comfortable for the people. The poem states ‘It was given a name’ . This makes the reader assume the feeling was given a name – nostalgia. The next stanza begins with ‘But the word was out’. Now the reader would assume that this means now the feeling has been given a name, everybody thinks they have it. This poem has a chronological structure, the first stanza is about leaving, the second is when they are in the mountains, and the third is about the return. This chronological order emphasise how far away the past is.

The poem ‘Close’ seems to be about an affair between a man and woman, and how they were in the past and in the present. The title of the poem immediately makes the reader ask questions, as it is ambiguous in wether it is the adjective or the verb ‘Close’. Eazch stanza starts with an imperative, for example the beginning sentence is ‘Lock the door’. This immediately enables the reader to see the actions that are being described in this poem are not to be seen by others. ‘Our’ is used throughout the poem, which emphasises the togetherness of the couple. Personification is used as a tool to show the difference in times,’Two childhoods stand in the corner of the bedroom’. This suggests the two personas knew each other as children.

It then goes on to say ‘watching the way we take each others clothes off’. By juxtaposing the past and the present in the same sentence, Duffy creates a sense of innocence in the affair. Duffy uses a very artistic colourful way of describing a sexual scene between the two lovers…’You have me like a drawing, erased, coloured in, untitled, signed by your tongue. This suggests that one has ownership of the other. Duffy uses a convention of the cinema when insinuating the couple have had sex. ‘A cigarette smoke itself’. This is a clever way of telling the reader what the couple have just done without being crude. The ending line of the poem is ‘They know who we are’. I think this is addressing the ‘Ghosts of ourselves ‘which is them in their childhood, their past selves.

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