Saturday, 23 February 2013

11aEn1 - 'Valentine' homework

After studying the poem, answer one of the following questions, leaving a comment at the bottom of this post.

  • What do you think the relationship is like between the speaker and their 'Valentine' and why do you think this?
  • Why does the speaker deliberately mention the traditional Valentines gift that the listener will not be receiving?
  • Do you think the poem ends on a positive or negative note, and why do you think this?
  • Where can we see circular imagery in the poem and why does the writer do this?

Remember, if you are wanting to do English Literature at A-Level, engaging in a debate with other students is essential. So go on, argue away!

Miss D


  1. Q1.

    I think that speaker has quite a bitter relationship with her valentine. I think this because she says "it will make your reflection
    a wobbling photo of grief" and as the word "grief" connotes sorrow and despair i can deduce that her relationship with her valentine must not be perfect. Furthermore, the use of enjambment "possessive and faithful,
    for as long as we are" suggests to the listener that her relationship has not been long lasting and is thus bitter and sad.
    -Dave Conteh

  2. Q2
    I think the speaker has listed valentine gifts the listener will not be receiving as it gives the reader a real image of what love is like and is trying to show that traditional, cliché valentine gifts are worthless if they have no meaning and are just objects. For example, by saying “not a red rose” she is saying valentine is not about objects that portray love i.e a rose, but about actual feelings. This opposes the traditional view of valentines which is to give presents to one another. This line was also written as the first line, purposely to juxtapose the heading. The heading connotes a traditional valentine poem, however when the reader reads the first line they realise it is not what they expect.
    Amery Harilal

  3. Q3
    In the poem of Valentine Carol Ann Duff started saying "Not a red rose or a satin heart" and then she wrote about the theme of the onion, in the middle of the poem she wrote " Not a red rose or a kissgram " and she continued writting about the onion. I think that she wrote this to show LOVE as a circle to remain us that in love sometimes is the same as we have to overcome some challenges again and again.
    Ana Reyna

  4. Q3
    I think the poem ends on quite a negative note because of the image of the knife at the end. Carol Ann Duffy writes ' It's scent will cling to your fingers, cling to your knife'. I think the word cling gives a sense of desperation and the fact that it is clinging to a knife ends the poem on a violent image because a knife can be used as a weapon'.
    -Henry Sakyi

  5. We see circular imagery in the poem in the fourth stanza. Carol Ann Duffy writes ‘I am trying to be truthful. Not a cute card or a kissogram.’ This is similar to when she writes ‘Not a red rose or a satin heart’ at the beginning of the poem. It implies to the reader that Duffy feels as though the reader is questioning her as they read the poem. Alliteration is used when she writes ‘cute card or kissogram’ the soft tone connotes simplicity and is effortless to say which is contrasted by the fact she writes ‘not’ before the imagery of romantic gifts. This demonstrates that she thinks love needs effort to be put into it and is not simple. Furthermore, Duffy continues to use alliteration when she writes ‘I am trying to be truthful’ This suggests that she refuses to go along with the cliché view of love and ‘valentines’ and is showing her view towards love.

    Natasha Paceee

  6. I think the relationship between the speaker and the valentine is very real and honest. The speaker tells the valentine "I give you an onion" this is surprising because it is not a traditional gift, but a very complex gift, a gift that shows the love towards the valentine. The speaker tells the valentine how their love will go, what is in store for them and what love can do to them; "it will blind you with tears". This shows that the speaker knows they will have good times but also bad times during their relationship. The speaker doesn't sugar coat their love or make it to be something it is not. It also implies that their relationship is open to the truth, " I am trying to be truthful". The speaker has a relationship with her valentine where she does not have to lie about how their love is or what their love should be like. Even though she starts and ends with a negative word and image, it is the truth of the cycle of love. Love can cause sad things but can also bring happiness; besides all the bad, happy times will come out of it. I think the relationship between the reader and their valentine is perfect because Carol Ann Duffy is showing she loves her valentine by being truthful and un materialistic

    Queen Nicoletta Attard

  7. I think that the poem ends in a negative way, Duffy writes " will cling to your knife". The word "lethal"shows that Duffy thinks love is something that will kill you and cause you pain, it is a pain that will stay with you. By saying that pain will cling to you, I think Duffy is saying love is so painful that you will cling with desperation to the idea of death, as from love you will die. This idea of death being the result of love, Duffy enforces a negative attitude shows Duffy's distaste for relationships and the fact she feels they always end bad, just like the poem.

    - Tia

  8. Q2.
    I think that the speaker deliberately mentions the traditional Valentines gift that the listener will not be receiving to eliminate the traditional views and clichés of Valentines day. Through the title "Valentine" it gives the listener expectations of clichéd images of love, however by using the one line stanza "Not a red rose or satin heart" immediately afterwards it creates an element of shock as it is not what the listener expects. Furthermore by using a one line stanza and an end point it emphasises that the idea of the poem is to show love not in the common commercial way.


  9. I think the poem ends on a negative note. In the last stanza, Carol Duffy portrays the heart as a knife. She states that the "scent will ...cling to your knife". The word "cling" implies that love has a permanent emotional effect. The fact that the pain of the deceased love with "cling" to you, will also be a constant reminder of the same love you once had. Furthermore, the knife will inevitably chop up the onion, implying that the love has been damaged and tarnished

    1. i think the poem ends on a good note because it concentrates on intimacy between two people, in which the strength of love describes the strength within onion -
      'it will blind you with tears like a lover'.first of all 'like a lover' is a similie,and linking the fact that an onion would blind you with tears rehiterates the fact love is strong in feeling and the one thing in common with an onion is that it makes you cry due to the emotional leekage.
      although carol shows deep intimacy, the first line that is portrayed as a cliche indicates fake love in the first sentence of the poem, 'Not a red rose or a satin heart'wich suggests unexpectancy from the reader because red rose and satin heart connotates love ,in building or strengthening a relationship however its hard for the partner to understand concepts of recieving an onion(on the outside its ugly but on the inside it makes you cry)than to recive a red rose or a satin heart therefore people may think love could be a joke.

      Lewis Clark

    2. i think the poem is positive in a way because it describes the relationship between the stregth of love and the onion which is between a man and a woman showing words of intimacy.
      carol compliments the onion saying it will blind you with tears like a lover - the similie like a lover usually describes what the union is capable of inner happiness (emotionally), which realtes to the fact that love is a strong feeling and it can make you cry in a happy or sad way which connotes emotional leekage.
      although the poem makes the reader have empathy carol portrays cliches representing fake love- not a red rose or satin heart. this suggests that the writer beagn the poem making the raeder expecting what happens on valentines day however the sarcastic catch phrase 'not' means that the reader should expect for the unexpected.therefore this links to the suprise of an onion because onions are not given o valentines day but i think that there is more than what meets the eye realting to the onion

  10. Q1
    I think that the relationship between the speaker and there valentine is a one sided relationship (possessive) . I think this because this speaker has chosen an onion which represents a symbol that will be around (stain/smell) for a long time, the speaker says 'I give you an onion, its fierce kiss will stay on your lips' which indicates that the speaker wants to be at the forefront of the valentines thoughts. Also the last sentence reflects the speakers need to be around the valentine all the time 'its scent will cling to your fingers,cling to your knife.
    Kain Alcide-Edwards

  11. By using the onion to contrast the cliched images of love, Duffy shows that there is a different side to love that is commonly overlooked. Also when the speaker gifts their valentine an onion, describing it as "A moon wrapped in brown paper." The word wrapped suggests that effort has to be put in to reveal the true beauty of love- much like effort is needed to unwrap the brown paper. In addition, the use of an onion suggests that the speaker does not want an ordinary relationship because roses and hearts are ordinary images of love.

  12. I think that the poem ends on a negative note because when Duffy writes "Cling to your knife." This implies that her love will stay with him permanently no matter what he does. Also, the violent connotations of a knife suggests that their love is damaged and the use of the imperative "take it" shows her desperation to rescue the relationship. However, the phrase "It's platinum loops shrink to a wedding ring suggests she has a never-ending love for him, in addition, the use of "platinum" suggests her love for him is precious.


  13. Q3: I think the last line is negative. The last line contains the words 'cling to your knife'. This is a negative way to end the poem as a knife is typically used to damage or cut something. It may also suggest bitterness as it shows possible mistrust by the speaker towards her 'valentine', connoting that even if he were to damage their love, it would still remain. Furthermore, it may just be the speaker expressing her faithfulness towards her partner.

    -Abijith Gopikrishnan

  14. On behalf of Mr Sterriker:
    I agree with the comment Henry made about the poem ending on a negative note, in relation to the word "lethal". This suggests that there will be no recovery from the damage to the love - this comes from the idea that lethal means death (e.g. lethal injection). There is no reversal to death, so eventually they will reach an end point.

  15. Kai's comments:
    I think that the relationship between the speaker and their valentine is bitter because the person speaking uses an onion to symbolise their love, and an onion has a bitter taste, implying that the relationship is bitter. An onion also has a lingering after taste that isn't enjoyed which suggests that the speaker's valentine has done something that has long lasting effects. Furthermore, the speaker says that she isn't going to offer hearts and chocolates (the normal Valentine connotations) so thinks the relationship may not be a normal one.

  16. In my opinion I believe the poem "Valentine" ends on a negative note. This is because the ending of the poem says " Its scent will cling to your fingers, cling to your knife." The word "cling" suggests that love will always have its permanent effects on a person, so if a lover has a negative love life the memory of the negative love life will always be carried/"cling" to that persons memory and would never go away. In addition to this this the word "knife" creates the image of the onion being cut by a knife and therefore this contrasts with the image of love gradually being broken apart. So due to these reasons I am influenced to believe that Carol Ann Duffy ends the poem of "Valentine" on a negative note.

  17. Can somebody please answer question four?

  18. A comment from Carlisa:
    Carol Duffy uses circular imagery when saying "not a red rode or a satin heart" she then carries on her poem and right in the middle she bring back her point that love doesn't have to be symbolized with the usual cliche of roses by saying it is "not a cute card or a kissogram". By doing this she is making it clear to the reader that the person who the poem is aimed at doesn't understand what she is trying to say hence the reason why she is constantly bringing the person back to her main point. She also does this when she says "i give you an onion", she say this at the beginning of the poem and then repeats it again in the 6th stanza. Yet again she is showing that the person receiving this poem is slight confused to why she is giving him an onion because she then carries on to explain what the onion is symbolic of and why she is giving him an onion instead of flowers or a cute card. Therefore Carol Duffy used circular imagery throughout her poem to show the reader that even though she knows exactly why she is giving him an onion, the person receiving the onion is extremely confused, which is what is expected.

  19. I think the poem ends on a negative note. The last sentence states that it will "cling to you like a knife". "Cling" suggests that Love is permanent a goes away easily.Furthermore Knife" connotes damage, scars.
    In the same way a knife can scar you physically love can emotionally and like a scar the effect of love is permanent and and not something that is not easy to forget or remove.

    -Rachael Josiah