Not a red rose or a satin heart.
—> WORD CHOICE - 1
- Traditional connotations of love rejected from the very beginning through use of the negative word NOT
- abrupt start suggests realism
- traditional gifts suggest traditional love
I give you an onion..
—> WORD CHOICE - 2
-‘I give you’ suggests forcefulness and dominance in the relationship
-unromantic idea yet it symbolises something special concealed by something ordinary
—> REPETITION - 6
-Repeated line from stanza 2 to stress the speaker’s insistence of the gift be accepted
- Full stop signifies ft being accepted
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
—> METAPHOR - 2
- Moon represents light, purity and ever present
- Brown paper can be compared to the outside of an onion. -Reminds us of a present being wrapped up. Suggests that real romantic gifts do not need to have fancy wrapping.
- Symbol of positivity, found in the beginning of a relationship
It will blind you with tears
Like a lover
—> SENTENCE STRUCTURE - 3
Monosyllabic & minor sentence-
The full stop and solitary stance emphasise the forceful presentation of the gift.
—>SIMILE - 3
-Conveys the idea that this relationship may occasionally cause pain and make you cry, just as getting too close to a chopped up onion can bring tears to your eyes.
-speaks with the reality of relationships
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.
—> METAPHOR - 3
- Emphasises the vulnerability and danger people expose themselves to when they submit to a romantic relationship.
- Love can be both passionate and damaging
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
-The lover is attempting to articulate not only the romantic, positive aspects of love but its more negative, darker associations.
-Compares the intense memories which linger once a relationship ends to the strong taste of an onion
—> WORD CHOICE -6
Juxtaposition - signals a change in the relationship
“faithful” - positive connotations of trust
“possessive” - negative connotations of jealousy, distrust, control and insecurity.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring
—> SENTENCE STRUCTURE and WORD CHOICE -7
Minor sentence - Lover is forceful and demanding , becoming desperate for the lover to accept gift
—> METAPHOR - 7
-Comparing the inside of an onion to a wedding ring, the ultimate symbol of love
-However, “shrink” suggests a claustrophobic, restrictive nature in the relationship.
—> SENTENCE STRUCTURE -8
Minor sentence - gives the word impact
- Lethal suggests danger (danger and death)
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife
—> METAPHOR - 8
- Comparing the lingering smell of an onion to the memories of an intense, potentially violent, relationship (shows love can be possessive and suffocating)
- Reiterating the fact that the memory of a deep relationship may last, even long after it has ended.
Form and structure:
- Written in free verse using irregular stanzas to support its content and purpose, which is to reject traditional restrictive conventions such as marriage and other notions of love and to warn lovers that being overly possessive can have undesirable consequences.
- Duffy deliberately avoids the use of language or imagery that we associate with love poetry. Instead, the words are often stark and monosyllabic to allow her to present her ideas clearly and unambiguously.
Good old context:
- Valentine’s Day: Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and romantic relationships, but is increasingly associated with consumerism and materialism. The poem is critical of performative acts of love, which could be viewed as ingenuine and insincere. In her poem, Duffy rejects many of the cliched items associated with the holiday: ‘red roses’, ‘kissograms’, ‘satin hearts’ and ‘cute cards’.
- Adrian Henry: At 16, Duffy began dating the 39 year old poet Adrian Henri who she lived with for 12 years. She chose to study Philosophy at Liverpool to be near him. In an interview she said: ‘He gave me confidence, he was great. It was all poetry and sex, very heady, and he was never faithful. He thought poets had a duty to be unfaithful… I’ve never got the hang of that’. It could be argued this relationship shaped Duffy’s views on relationships and fidelity.