In order to look at the poems and how they are expressed we first need to look at the poet’s and what inspired them in their life or what lead them to write these poems. The two poets that we will be looking at and comparing are Carol Ann Duffy and Philip Larkin. These are two poets both on the opposite ends of the spectrum, where one is a feminist and the other disregards and objectifies women.
Carol Ann Duffy is a Scottish poet and Playwright, born in 1955, she was the first openly gay Scottish women to be made Poet Laureate in May 2009. She mostly writes about dramatic issues which give voice to people who need a voice, and no one pays attention to. Most of her writing is based on dramatic monologues.
And the second poet Philip Arthur Larkin born 1922 was an English poet and novelist who graduated from Oxford and was a significant poet of the 20th century. He worked in various universities as a librarian and admired jazz. It is said that he had a very overbearing father who may have been a right-wing extremist, which impacted him as a person. He hated his mother for not saving herself from his father which lead to him hating women in general.
The poem\’s that I have chosen to compare are First Love and Adultery by Carol Ann Duffy and Talking in bed and Wild Oats by Philip Larkin. The reason for me choosing these poems is the similarity that they hold within them. Both writers have unique styles of writing and both being from a different era in time and being great poet’s respectively during their time period. Makes them a great opponent to compare them with each other.
First Love, by Carol Ann Duffy is a short poem which consists of only three stanzas, which have five lines in each. The poem is quite short, but it holds a lot of meaning within in, the shortness of the poem could possibly, represent the significance of love and how long Duffy may think it lasts. The title of the poem First Love relates to youthfulness and the idealistic thought of pure love also possibly relating to childhood love. The use of past and present tense in the poem presents the idea of nostalgia highlighting a manner of pain that is felt in the loss of love.
Dream in the first stanza, the first line could possibly be a reference to the surrealism that is perhaps associated with the feelings of first love. The “Dream” of love is the physical and perhaps mental attraction which is intensified in first love most probably due to naivety. The second stanza, the fifth line “In mirrors, my lover’s eyes”. Might be a suggestion that the narrator in this instance is a reflection of their lover and vice versa, and maybe this broaches the subject of soulmates.
Which is interesting and maybe even extraordinary to find in “First Love”. Third stanza, first line “A star, long dead”. The star mentioned here might be used to reflect the idea of the process of natural birth and death of stars which is constantly and spontaneously taking place. Which could, in fact, be a reference to love, the star being used as a symbol of the glistening prospect of love which is now “long dead”. The fact that it is being described as “precisely the size of a tear” which makes the reader sympathize with the narrator and immediately identify and relate to the thought and feeling of losing love.
The second poem by Carol Ann Duffy is Adultery, this poem consists of 11 stanzas. This poem consists of repetition but also restrictions, it has a regular repetitive rhythm as to avoid losing the impact. The theme of the poem as implicated by the title is of betrayal and deceit. It explores the wife’s feelings towards her husband’s infidelity, Duffy introduces her poem in an exciting and a mysteries way.
“wear dark glasses in the rain” by starting with this line she shows that the person is hiding his/her identity.
“Guilt, a sick, green tint.” Makes the reader pause and think to give the word “guilt” A bigger meaning. It portrays the damage caused by the actions of the adulterer, she leaves the word “hands “and written which makes it Important due to the various things a person can do with it. The second stanza creates an atmosphere of excitement and also shows a hint of prostitution when Duffy uses the line “money out in the palms “.
The first line, third stanza “you are naked “is also of significance because it does not only imply infidelity but also, the word naked could mean vulnerability. The first line, third stanza “you are naked” is also significant because it not only implies infidelity but also the word naked could mean vulnerability. Duffy uses this to present the reader with different ways to look at the partner.
Talking in bed, by Philip Larkin is also a short poem. The poem consists of four stanzas, three lines in each stanza. The image of a couple being in bed has been introduced in the first line, the use of the word ‘ought’ puts a question against this assumption, which suggests this is not easily achieved.
The word ’Lying’ could possibly hold multiple meanings, one being the fact that there is a possibility of there not being complete honesty between the couple. ‘Emblem’ is the picture or representation of the relationship. This line is the only line without 10 syllables which links in with the ‘lie’ that is the delusion of a perfect marriage. The first line is immediately negative as communication becomes non-existent, the monotonous. The pace of the line links in with time passing slowly.
The second poem by Philip Larkin is wild oats, this poem contains three stanzas which consist of eight lines each. This poem does not follow a rhyme scheme and has an excessive amount of enjambment. The poem tells the story of a man who fails in his relationship. The title of the poem “Wild Oats” refers to the saying “sowing your wild oats”. This, in short, means sleeping around and living life to the maximum whilst you are still in your youth. Larkin laughs at himself in this poem because he knows that he was not very provocative and did not spend his youth how he may have intended to.
The structure of the poem implies that his first encounter with the women in the poem changed the course of the rest of his life, first stanza, third line the sentence “A Bosomy English rose” is used to describe the more attractive girl. Which conveys Larkin’s intense focus on sexual relationships. ‘rose’ alludes to women being roses in terms of their sexual qualities. However, he is only seeing the bright, soft petals of the rose, and is overlooking the less romantic, thorny stem that is underneath. The rose becomes a symbol of shallow, purely physical sex, thus showing from the start of the poem that, Larkin is not interested in true love.
The poem could serve as a confession from Larkin of his weakness when it comes to relationships.’ Too selfish, withdrawn, and easily bored to love.’ list of adjectives and adverbs ‘too’ are self-criticism, which reflects the overall tone of the poem. on one hand, Larkins admittance to being superficial could evoke sympathy from the reader, however, his emphasis of the fact that he honestly placed more important in appearance than in more personal qualities, makes the reader think twice about who they should be sympathetic to words.
‘Unlucky charms, perhaps’ the last line in the poem in the third stanza, conveys the fact that he regardless of his flaws, has been continuing to fantasise about a woman he could never have, and this is the cause, for his failure in love. However, the nonchalant manner in which he delivers this final line shows how little impact the whole situation has had on him.