Carol Ann Duffy writes poetry, which reveal disturbing aspects of human behaviour and the human nature.
I will be writing about these three poems, ‘Salome’, ‘Before you were mine’, and ‘Stealing’. I will be going into deeper meanings with these poems showing what is revealed and how it is revealed. Te three poems all have more than one theme. In Salome, the theme is revenge, and it also has a strong sexual element.
The main idea in the text of before you were mine is a sexual element, but one between the mother and daughter which is very disturbing.We can see this firstly in the title, “Before you were mine”. The word mine has slight sexual connotations. Also, her name Marilyn is symbolic for the great sex icon Marilyn Monrogue, suggesting she sees her mother as a sex icon.Order now
The poem stealing is on the subject of theft but also has a sexual element. In the first stanza, “midnight”, and “moon” have romantic connotations, and so does “mate” which also has sexual connotations. Theft is also a disturbing theme as most of us regard theft as being immoral, meaning she doesn’t care about right or wrong.This theory is also proved when the poet writes, “Part of the thrill was that knowing children would cry in the morning”.
She is not amoral, as she knows the difference between right and wrong, “a fierce chill” which suggests a pain in her stomach. This is symbolic for the guilt she is feeling. Overall, the main themes in each of these poems do show disturbing aspects of human nature such as theft and revenge. Each poem is structured differently.
First of all, Stealing starts and ends with a rhetorical question, to give the poem shape.In Before you were mine, the poem ends by saying “before you were mine”, which also gives it shape. All of the poems have four or five stanzas, which structure the poem as most stanzas have the same amount of lines. In Salome, the main character Salome is symbolic for Eve, and all other women who use sex as a means of corrupting the souls of men.
The first four lines of this poem suggest she is having a one-night stand and will continue having them, but she also needs a physical satisfaction, “good-looking, of course”. This suggests she only has one need for men, and that is physical satisfaction, and not emotional satisfaction.Another example of unemotional images is in stealing, “Snowman”, “Slice of ice”, “cold”, which all imply that her emotions are frozen, or she has no emotions. In the poem before you were mine, we can see that she has emotions for her mother, but not for men.
She calls her mum “sweetheart”, and “glamorous”, which shows her sexual interest to her mother, suggesting she maybe a lesbian. Carol Ann Duffy also creates disturbing images, such as “lamb to the slaughter”, which illustrates a young, innocent man being sacrificed.This has religious connotations as it refers to any sacrificial victims, but mainly to Jesus, who is the Lamb of God. Another chilling image is in stealing, “a fierce chill piercing my gut”, which could represent hunger, or guilt.
In before you were mine, she creates many disturbing images of sexual love between her mother and herself. The narrative voice in Salome and before you were mine are obviously feminine, but in stealing, there are not many clues given. One of the clues is, “I booted him”. Boot has masculine connotations, but also the speaker could just be taking his/her anger out on men.
In my opinion the speaker speaks quite estuary language, for example, “flogged it”, “bust of Shakespeare”, “booze and fags”, “beater or blighter”, and “ma”. These are all slang terms from the three poems, and show the speaker is speaking of quite a low-average register of language. By the speaker’s socialect, we can tell that she could be from a working class or middle class background. To conclude, I think the poems are well structured, have much deeper meanings than most people realise, and that they do go into the morally wrong aspects of human nature.