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The narrator imagines her mother's life before she was born. The speaker says the mother was her happiest in the 10 years before she was born.
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'Before you were mine' by Carol Ann Duffy: Analysis | SchoolWorkHelper

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Before you were Mine by Carol Ann Duffy

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The Use of Descriptions of Memory in Before You Were Mine and Brothers by Carol Ann Duffy

Why not share! Embed Size px. Start on. Show related SlideShares at end. As in 'Stealing' the language of this poem is mostly fairly straightforward , and Duffy creates a sense of a conversation. There aren't any obvious poetic devices to write about. There are no metaphors, or similes, for instance. There is however a lot of visual imagery. If you look at all the descriptions in the box above you'll find they all appeal to our sense of sight.

We don't hear until the end or smell the mother, because this is a poem inspired by an image, by a photograph. The poet cannot fully connect with, cannot fully experience, the world of the 'young' mother because of this.


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There is a distance between them. The effect is like a film with the sound down, Duffy, and the reader picking things up through gestures and expressions. The language the child uses is very simple; short sentences beginning with 'I', 'me' or 'mine' in them.

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So we get the sense of the demands a small child puts on a mother. Addressing her directly, asking her questions: 'The decade ahead of my loud, possessive yell was the best one, eh? Using non-standard sentences and punctuation to convey the rhythm and pauses in speech. There seems to be some regret about how the baby changed its mother.

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The possessive tone of the baby and its self-centredness also suggests the poem is about how children change and come to rule their parents' lives. Attitude The tone of the poem is at times tender and warm.


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  • But there is also something slightly ominous. Semantic fields are used in both for similar effects. The imagery of the sky whitening; the mother's 'wheat' hair and the 'blue' cups suggest an image of heaven, which supports the interpretation that the parents are both dead. There are deeper meanings to both.

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    Essay on 'Before You Were Mine' by Carol Ann Duffy

    Duffy's poem has undertones of remorse, and may be a letter to her dead mother; Causley's poem is still about death and passing over, despite the serene imagery. Both narrators have close relationships with their parents, as shown by the conversational tone and lack of rhyme scheme in Before You Were Mine, and the fact that Causley's parents are 'waiting for him'. Differences Before You Were Mine contains direct address, to carry a conversational tone; on a deeper level, it may also make the poem an apology to her mother.

    The last stanza is broken up into a quattraine and a single stanza in Eden Rock, to show the jarring reality of the narrator's life, or perhaps him being snapped back to reality.

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    The tone of the pieces are different. In Eden Rock, the adverbs 'slowly' and 'leisurely' convey his crossing to the afterlife as a peaceful one; 'Before You Were Mine' carries a more conversational tone, that also has undertones of remorse- she describes her mother as "stamping stars from the wrong pavement Duffy's narrator is unknown, as most of her poems explore previously unexplored feminine viewpoints; Caulsley is definitely himself, through the fact that his father died at age 7 which explains why there is only one stanza. Duffy uses glamorous imagery to paint her mother as a 'bold' and 'sparkling' woman, which stresses the endless potential that the narrator snatched away from her.