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The story of Demeter and her daughter Persephone is an ancient myth which seeks to explain the mysteries of the seasons and the death and renewal of the earth’s plants and crops. When Demeter ruled in happiness, the earth gave abundant crops all the time, but one day the King of the Underworld, Hades, abducted Persephone and carried her off as his bride. Demeter was angry and grief stricken. She ignored her duties to seek her daughter and the earth became barren and dead. At last Hades was persuaded to allow Persephone to spend time with her mother, but only on condition she had eaten nothing in the underworld. However Persephone had eaten four pomegranate seeds and so was allowed to spend eight months of the year with her mother and the other four were spent with Hades. That is why the earth blooms and is fruitful for the eight months that Persephone is with Demeter, and withers and dies during the time she is away.

Duffy’s poem reflects her own joy in her daughter and remembers the time without her, before she was born, which, looking back, seems to have been lacking. She compares it to"Where I lived – winter and hard earth./I sat in my cold stone room/choosing tough words, granite, flint/to break the ice."

Here the reader is given an image of the poet, trapped in cold isolation, the words of her poems not warm or funny, but hard and tough. This is fairly true of Duffy’s writing, as many of her poems before this collection were sad or even menacing and dealt with the difficult and painful aspects of life. The final phrase has a metaphorical meaning; to create a social atmosphere especially at an event where people are strangers and not speaking. This double meaning reinforces the sense of loneliness that is


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