first love - carol ann duffy

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  • first love
    • what is the poem about?
      • The poem is about a persona (supposedly a female) waking up from a dream about their first love. This dream is then so powerful that it controls their day and stops them from being able to focus because of the image of their first love.
    • who is the persona?
      • Appears to be a female because of the line “As close to my lips as lipstick”
      • Also because of the romantic connotations of the poem and the fact that a dream about her first love is able to affect her that much suggests that she is a romantic
      • Because she could be distracted this easily suggests that she may be absent-minded or a daydreamer.
      • She may also be nostalgic because of the line “An old film played at slow speed.” Which has connotations of the past and therefore represents the persona as nostalgic.
    • themes
      • Relationships = As the poem is of the loss of a relationship and the effect that one of the first can have on an individual means that it would be good for the theme relationships as it explains the lasting effects of them
      • Memory = could fit within this theme as it explores how the memory of a relationship can affect someone even though it was a long time ago.
    • language
      • structure of the poem
        • each stanza represents a different time of the day. In the first stanza it says – “Waking, with a dream of first love.” The dynamic verb “waking” implies that it is the start of the day and the persona is waking up from the dream.
        • In the second stanza it says – “All day I will glimpse.” The use of the temporal dexsis of “all day” suggests that the dream has affected the persona throughout the day.
        • In the final stanza it says – “And later, a star.” The use of the temporal dexisis of “later” and the noun “star” implies that it is in the evening. Duffy has done this to show how the dream of the persona’s first love has affected her throughout the day.
      • Direct address – Throughout the poem the persona uses direct address
        • “I speak your name” and “You smile in my head."
          • The use of the personal pronoun “you” suggests that this maybe a love letter. The persona wants to say this to the person who her first love was. She may want to explain how she feels about them. It may also be a sense of identity and the direct address is used to address the part of herself where her first love is.
      • contrast of verbs
        • In the line “Unseen flowers suddenly pierce and sweeten the air.”
          • The juxtaposition of the verbs “pierce” and “sweeten” are used to portray the bittersweet feeling of the relationship and first love. The use of the personification may also represent a sense of relief as pierce and sweeten sound like they have just bloomed, which represents the persona’s sense of relief about thinking about her first love and how the memories have come back to her.


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